SALT LAKE CITY — An independent investigation regarding allegations that a University of Utah Police officer shared compromising photos of slain student Lauren McCluskey has been completed, and the university released a copy of the report Wednesday.
In May, The Salt Lake Tribune published a story alleging that former officer Miguel Deras "was involved in downloading, sharing, and bragging about having explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey," an executive summary of the investigation said.
University of Utah Police Chief Rodney Chatman requested an independent investigation regarding the allegations, which found no physical evidence that Deras downloaded the images of McCluskey to his cellphone.
"Also, there is no evidence that Officer Deras forwarded the images in question to anyone other than to Detective Kayla Dallof (who was the detective assigned to this case), and to the records officer/executive assistant [...], who was processing the [Government Records and Access Management Act] requests related to this case," the summary said.
According to the report, one officer reported hearing Deras say "He could look at [the photos] whenever he wanted."
Jeremy Jones, Deras' attorney, refuted that officer's statement in a news release issued Wednesday.
"Officer Deras did not make any such statement. He professionally and appropriately handled the photos. He wanted to, and did, assist with the exploitation investigation. He sought assistance
from his chain of command on the photos and abided by given directives. He never shared the photos without a valid purpose or boasted about them," Jones' news release said.
In a statement released Wednesday, Chief Chatman noted that the investigation did find evidence that a few officers who saw the photos made inappropriate comments about them.
"As I wrote in May, it is inexcusable for any law enforcement officer to discuss photos or information provided by a victim outside of clear and legitimate law enforcement reasons. I am deeply disturbed by this finding and disappointed in the officers who were present and who did not report this incident through appropriate university channels," Chatman wrote. "While employment actions are confidential, it is important that the university community understands we are pursuing action against individual officers based on the findings in this report."
McCluskey's parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, issued the following statement in response to the release of Utah DPS' independent investigation.
"The University of Utah continues to mislead, cover up the facts, and fail to take responsibility for the murder of our daughter. We now call for the University of Utah to redo its incomplete and disingenuous investigation and for an independent review of the facts surrounding Lauren’s murder and the University’s failure to respond to her pleas for help.”