A months-long inquiry by the Utah Department of Public Safety has established that a former University of Utah campus police officer overseeing the case of student Lauren McCluskey, who was being sexually extorted by an unstable man she’d briefly dated, did indeed show explicit photos of her to other officers, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Only days after Officer Miguel Deras shared the explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey (which she’d taken herself) with the other officers, the man who was using those images as leverage against the college student would murder her.
The damning report, which came out Wednesday, finds that Deras showed the photos — in person, as opposed to by sending them through text or email — to at least three of his male colleagues in a crude and shockingly insensitive context that was wholly unrelated to their work as officers meant to protect students.One of Deras’ colleagues recalled that the officer boorishly remarked that he got to “look at them whenever he wants,” referring to the explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey.The other officers were hardly professional in their reaction to being shown the explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey.
One of them expressed envy that Deras was so fortunate as to get to work on a case involving such a “cute girl.” Never mind the distress this doomed young woman was enduring as an apparently deranged man — a sex offender at that — tormented her with threats of revealing her private photos.The investigation grew out of the findings of a Salt Lake Tribune investigation, published in May, into Deras’ astonishingly unprofessional conduct surrounding his handling of Lauren McCluskey’s highly private and sensitive explicit photos.
Lauren’s parents are suing the university twice over its failure to protect their daughter.
According to Deseret News, not only does the new report indicate that these errant officers have plenty to answer for when it comes to their unprofessional conduct, so does the former acting campus police chief for his handling of the matter.In a prepared statement, the University of Utah Police Chief Rodney Chatman spoke to the officers’ handling of the explicit images of the late Lauren McCluskey, saying, “It is inexcusable for any law enforcement officer to discuss photos or information provided by a victim outside of clear and legitimate law enforcement reasons. I am deeply disturbed by this finding and disappointed in the officers who were present and who did not report this incident through appropriate university channels.”
Lauren’s mother, Jill McCluskey, had plenty to say herself about how the officers handled the explicit images of her murdered child, saying in her own statement, “Deras’ egregious misconduct in betraying a victim’s trust by displaying private evidence photos to officers who are not involved in the investigation is a crime.”
She continued, alluding to the alleged lack of action the university took in responding to urgently expressed concerns on the part of friends of Lauren’s, who reported that they worried she was in danger where the man who attempted to extort her was concerned: “The University of Utah continues to mislead, continues to cover up the facts and continues to fail to take responsibility for the murder of our daughter,” she said. “Last May, the university claimed that Deras never showed pictures of Lauren to any non involved officers. But today, the independent investigation shows the university’s representation was totally false.”
As CBS 2 KUTV recounts, Melvin Rowland, a man the 21-year-old Lauren had briefly dated, shot and killed her on campus on October 22, 2018. Shortly after killing Lauren, Rowland, who was not a student at the university, killed himself.
With Rowland dead, the investigation into what happened has focused on the university’s failure to protect Lauren despite her repeatedly seeking help and despite her friends also expressing concern for her safety to university officials.Lauren McCluskey, who was a track-and-field star, had already shelled out $1,000 to the man who would ultimately kill her in hopes of keeping him from releasing the explicit photos of her.
The reason Deras had access to these explicit photos was because Lauren McCluskey had entrusted them to campus police when she submitted them as evidence of the extortion plot against her.
Lauren’s parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, have demanded that the university conduct a second investigation into the officers’ conduct.