Several Utah lawmakers are working on preventing re-victimization after a report said the officer in the murdered University of Utah student Lauren McCluskey case accessed her intimate images on a personal device and showed them to someone else.
The University of Utah says it found no evidence that the accusation is true.
But legislators are taking the allegations seriously.
“It’s disgusting behavior,” said Representative Karen Kwan live on Utah’s Morning News on KSL NewsRadio Monday morning.
She said she wants to see if Utah’s revenge porn law needs to be modified or clarified for a situation like this.
“Distribution of the images, if it causes harm, it’s a misdemeanor. So the question is, is that wide enough for this behavior to be under,” she said.
Representative Andrew Stoddard opened a bill that would prevent law enforcement from downloading private images to a personal device. And the bill would also prevent sharing those images with anyone not involved in the investigation.
— Karen Kwan (@RepKarenKwan) May 18, 2020
A spokesman for the University of Utah clarified that the officer in question did not download the images, but received them directly from Lauren McCluskey as part of her initial stalking and sextortion case.
Stoddard told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic it is a huge concern and a breach of trust if these allegations are true.
“I think we need to address this from a lot of different angles… We’ve come a long way in terms of victim’s rights and I think it’s something that we need to address to increase the trust between victims and our law enforcement community,” Stoddard told Dave and Dujanovic.
He says that this may be a place where the technology has outpaced the law.
Stoddard also says that if the allegations are true, he feels that there is standing for criminal charges as part of Utah’s revenge porn law and is calling for another investigation into the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training.
“We need to use the power of the state to make sure that we’re protecting our students. They are an especially vulnerable population.”
Stoddard in the past tried to get a bill passed called “Lauren’s Law,” which would hold gun owners civilly liable if they lend the weapon to someone who uses it in a crime.
The chairs of the Education Interim Committee have also come out and says they will conduct a hearing to review campus police protocols and protection of student victims’ privacy.
The Lieutenant Governor wrote that the report was disgusting and tragic. He says the alleged behavior is not only wrong but dangerous.
Law enforcement response
The officer in question currently works for the Logan City Police Department (LCPD). LCPD released a statement Monday afternoon, claiming the department was unaware of the officer’s alleged actions.
The police department says they plan on investigating the incident further. “We are taking these allegations seriously and investigating the claims while ensuring due process is also being served,” said LCPD.
Logan police noted the allegations have not been confirmed and the University of Utah Police Department has already done an “in-depth internal investigation on this very claim, including interviews with co-workers, employees, and a forensic download of this officer’s phone.”
The department is asking for patience from the public as they work to conduct the investigation.
“If there is evidence substantiating the allegations, we will take appropriate action,” said Logan City Chief of Police, Gary Jensen.
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