Utah announces ‘listening session’ after ESPN documentary airs

The University of Utah plans to hold a series of “listening sessions” about the 2018 murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey in response to ESPN’s upcoming documentary, “LISTEN,” the agency has announced. school on Friday.

The documentary examines the institutional failures that led to McCluskey’s death.

“Being transparent and accountable is the only way forward,” university president Taylor Randall said in a statement Friday. “We have learned from this tragic event and are applying those hard-won lessons in an effort to continually improve and set a national standard for safety practices at a public university.”

McCluskey, a member of the school’s track team, was fatally shot in 2018 by a man she briefly dated, Melvin Shawn Rowland, who lied about her identity. After McCluskey found out he was a convicted sex offender, she broke up with him and repeatedly sought help from campus police as he stalked and harassed her. State and school investigations revealed a number of failures by campus police and housing officials.

ESPN has investigated the circumstances of McCluskey’s death for four years and will share its findings in several ways next week. “LISTEN” will premiere at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN+ and ESPN+ on Hulu, and an accompanying written story will be released on the ESPN app and website earlier in the day. ABC’s “20/20” will also cover McCluskey’s death on its two-hour program at 9 p.m. on March 31.

The school did not provide any officials for an on-camera or taped interview for the four-year ESPN investigation, but released a statement earlier this year that read: “The university recognizes and deeply regrets not having treated Lauren’s case as it should have and that, at the time, her employees did not fully understand Lauren’s situation and did not respond appropriately. As a result, we let Lauren down and her family. If these employees had received more comprehensive training and protocols to guide their responses, the university believes they would have been better equipped to protect Lauren.”

Friday’s school announcement followed the release of the “LISTEN” trailer this week.

The school’s statement on Friday noted its mended relationship with Lauren’s parents, Jill and Matt, who sued the university and ultimately agreed to a $13.5 million settlement in 2020. The McCluskeys worked with the university officials on a series of initiatives since then.

“University leaders, in partnership with the McCluskey family, are committed to ensuring that her death was not in vain. Lauren’s death has forced the university to address systemic issues of education, process and management in its police department, siled campus operations, and incomplete employee training and communication, particularly around the issue of domestic violence.It also highlighted gaps in collaboration between the University Police, the Utah Department of Corrections, and Adult Probation and Parole,” the statement read.


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