Utah cop showed off nudes slain student Lauren McCluskey gave him to complain about blackmailing boyfriend
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH: A police officer reportedly saved explicit pictures of a college student, who was being blackmailed by her ex-boyfriend, to his personal phone, and bragged about it to a colleague days before she was killed.
Lauren McCluskey, 21, a University of Utah student, confided in campus police in October 2018 that she was being extorted by her sex-offender ex-boyfriend, identified as 37-year-old Melvin Rowland. McCluskey had told the officers that Rowland had access to some of her personal images and he was threatening to release them if she did not pay him $1000, according to the Lake Tribune. A frightened McCluskey paid the money to Rowland and then sent copies of the threatening messages along with the explicit pictures to the police.
A campus officer to whom McCluskey had made the complaint, officer Miguel Deras, reportedly saved the explicit pictures the promising athlete had given him as evidence on his personal phone and showed them to at least one of his male colleagues. Deras reportedly bragged about ogling at them anytime he pleased, according to the outlet. Nearly nine days after McCluskey filed the report, she was shot dead by Rowland on campus. The 37-year-old took his own life after the shooting.
McCluskey, a young track star, had ended his relationship with Rowland a month before her death after she discovered he was a registered sex offender and had lied about his name, age, and criminal history.
McCluskey's mother, Jill, while talking to the Tribune said: "The people who were supposed to be helping and protecting Lauren were actually exploiting her. I wish that Deras had used his time to arrest the man who was committing crimes against Lauren."
The McCluskey family has now filed a $56 million lawsuit over how the police handled the case. The suit was filed after an independent investigation into the case found that Deras did not do much to probe the complaints made by McCluskey.
The independent probe report stated that McClusky, on October 22, called Deras to report that Rowland was attempting to lure her out of her dorm. Deras, however, did not pass that information to anyone else in the police department and hours later the 21-year-old was shot dead. The girl's father, Matt McCluskey, told the outlet: "This latest revelation makes me wonder when we'll hit bottom."
Deras now works for Logan Police 85 miles away from his previous workplace. "'He was long gone before we had any inkling that that incident with the photo being shown had occurred," campus police department's Lt Jason Hinojosa told the paper. "We did identify one person who could confirm. He came forward after the investigation [had] begun." He also added that the officer who was shown the images has not been disciplined because he did not ask Deras to see the pictures.
Although no action has been taken against Deras yet, Major Scott Stephenson, who oversees police training under the Utah Department of Public Safety in Utah, said that the recent discovery could be grounds for action against Deras' police certification. "It's very alarming to me," he told the outlet.