POLICE

No charges for former U. officer who showed intimate photos of Lauren McCluskey to coworkers

Oct 15, 2020, 11:05 AM | Updated: 2:50 pm
A former chief and former officers from the University of Utah police sued, saying the school made them scapegoats after the murder of Lauren McCluskey, a student-athlete. (PHOTO: University of Utah)
(PHOTO: University of Utah)

SALT LAKE CITY– The former University of Utah officer involved in the Lauren McCluskey case who the school says showed intimate photos of the student-athlete to co-workers will not face criminal charges according to the District Attorney. 

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed Thursday that his office has decided not to pursue charges against Miguel Deras for showing photos of McCluskey. 

Gill tells KSL Deras’ behavior was reckless and he knows this will be an unpopular decision where people will have good reason to be furious.

“I think everybody can agree that this is really unacceptable conduct,” he said.

However, he says it was the only decision he was allowed to make under Utah’s current laws. 

Gill said, “It’s reckless and, I think, hurtful and it caused injury to people, but I just don’t have a statutory remedy that I can make fit.”

According to Gill, revenge porn laws are written so they specifically protect the person involved in those images, and they don’t apply to that person’s family.  Gill believes sharing the pictures was harmful to McCLuskey, but it would be impossible to prove any kind of “injury” since she was dead at the time Deras reportedly shared them.

“Certainly the family felt that hurt and that injury, along with [Lauren’s] reputation, but there is no provision in the law that allows us to [charge Deras],” he said.

Gill believes this case shows there is a massive hole in Utah’s criminal code when it comes to sharing these kinds of images, and he’s taking steps to fix that.

“We’re working with a legislator to try to articulate that kind of a scenario where an officer has what would otherwise be deemed as ‘protected information’ and it serves no lawful purpose to share that with a third party,” Gill said.

 

Before her murder on Oct. 22, 2018, McCluskey reported incidents of harassment and extortion by her ex-boyfriend 37-year-old Melvin Shawn Rowland to campus police. Deras was assigned to her case where McCluskey shared intimate photos of herself to him as a form of evidence.  

In a statement made earlier this year after an independent review, Chief Rodney Chatman said investigators found no evidence to show the officer in question downloaded the photos inappropriately or shared them (digitally) with others. But he says investigators did find evidence Deras showed the photos to, “a small number of officers” who “inappropriately commented on the photos before, during or immediately after a shift change briefing.” An action Chatman called “inexcusable.” 

Lauren’s mother Jill McCluskey responded to the findings in August saying that the University of Utah, “continues to mislead, cover up the facts, and fails to take responsibility for the murder of our daughter.”

The DPS report shows that Officer Miguel Deras accessed the photo email attachments unnecessarily on his phone multiple times.  UU Police Chief Rodney Chatman stated that the report found no evidence that Deras downloaded the picture files, but of course, that is irrelevant to him being able to view them whenever he wanted on his phone. He showed the photos to other officers on at least four occasions, including to the officer in charge after receiving them, at a meeting where he walked around a table with multiple officers showing pictures to each one of them, in a hallway where inappropriate comments were made, and at the scene of Lauren’s murder, which is especially hurtful.  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.

McCluskey added on Thursday that the DA’s decision could cause more women to hesitate in coming forward with reports of abuse.

Deras later left the U’s police department and joined the Logan Police Department. During the investigation of showing McCluskey’s photos to co-workers, Deras was fired from the Logan Police Department

Gill is expected to discuss the decision not to file charges against Deras later this afternoon. 

This story is breaking and will be updated. 

 

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No charges for former U. officer who showed intimate photos of Lauren McCluskey to coworkers