Mother of murdered U student Lauren McCluskey blasts DA’s decision not to charge cop who shared daughter’s photo

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Oct. 15, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Just a week short of the second anniversary of Lauren McCluskey’s death, her mother, Jill, feels like a new blow has been dealt in the case.

In an interview with Gephardt Daily, Jill McCluskey reacted strongly to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s decision that a former officer of the University of Utah’s police department would face no charges for sharing an intimate photo 21-year-old Lauren had submitted as just days before her murder as evidence in a blackmail case.

Jill McCluskey says a law enforcement report found that, while employed as a police officer, Miguel Deras on several occasions showed Lauren’s intimate evidence photo to campus police officers not involved in the blackmail case.

Lauren told officers that 37-year-old Melvin Rowland was blackmailing her, and exhibiting other threatening behaviors. Days later, on Oct. 22, 2018, Rowland waited outside Lauren’s dorm and shot her to death, police later reported. Lauren had ended a brief relationship with Rowland weeks earlier, after she learned of his status as a convicted sex offender and of lies he had told about his age, name, and other matters.

Rowland was found hours after Lauren’s murder, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Questions for Gill

McCluskey spent some of Thursday morning asking her Twitter followers to question Gill’s decision.

Jill Rowland told newsman Bill Gephardt in an exclusive interview after Gill’s announcement that she doesn’t buy the DA’s explanation that he has no law under which to charge Deras.

“We feel that District Attorney Gill should have pursued justice in the case,” McCluskey said. “He (Deras) broke the law.”

McCluskey noted that the nude photo was not evidence in the murder investigation, and the additional officers shown the photo were not assigned to the blackmail investigation.

“So, if an individual did that, they could be charged under — there’s a misdemeanor for that that you cannot share compromising photos of someone else without their consent…. It’s the revenge porn law that, ‘display of a compromising photo without the consent of the person in the photo is a law,’ and he broke that law, and I don’t know why a police officer would have this special advantage to break that law. That makes no sense.”

McCluskey said Gill was arguing that there must be evidence of harm for prosecution, “and because Lauren is dead, there’s no harm done.”

McCluskey’s mother begs to differ. The harm extends beyond even the obvious emotional devastation caused to Lauren’s survivors and friends, her mother said.

“It will cause women to not want to come forward because they know police officers will not face consequences if they share their (victims’) private evidence photos to people not related to their case. It’s a betrayal of trust.”

To see what else McCluskey has to say about the case, Gill, and the ongoing federal lawsuits against the U of U, Deras and other entities, watch the interview on the player above.


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