Editorial: Former UUPD Officers’ Moral Bankruptcy Shouldn’t Be Compensated



Former University of Utah police officers Dale Brophy, Miguel Deras, Rick McLenon, Mario Sellick and Aaron Nelson are demanding $10 million from the university for damage to their reputations after they “mishandled” Lauren McCluskey’s case. Their collective failure was more than a mishandling — they dismissed Lauren’s pleas for help until it was too late, maliciously spread explicit pictures of her and refused to take any responsibility for her untimely death. These police officers’ actions contributed to an unsafe environment on our campus. In asking for compensation from the U, they’re asking for money from the very students they failed to protect. 

To these former officers, let us be completely clear: You are despicable. You are disgusting. And you do not deserve a dime from the student body from which you’ve already taken so much.

U students had already been traumatized by the on-campus deaths of Katherine Peralta and ChenWei Guo when your misogyny in handling Lauren’s intimate partner abuse case led to her murder in 2018. Lauren and her mother had both alerted campus security about the potential danger she was in, and you blew off their concerns as an overreaction, or perhaps the hypersensitivity of a dramatic college girl. Whatever your justification, it wasn’t enough. It was that justification that left a woman dead, her loved ones overcome with heartbreak and anger and our student body filled with dread each time we have to walk alone from class. What you did ruined lives and took away our sense of safety in the place we live, work and learn.

When you say that the promise between you and the university to remain anonymous was broken, think about how we feel. You promised to keep us safe, but you broke that promise when you failed to protect our classmate. To say you feel cheated out of your reputations is disgusting and disingenuous when you cheated a young woman (and everyone who loved her) out of her future — something that no amount of money can return. Now you’re attempting to cheat our campus community out of millions of dollars.

The idea that you should be entitled to so much money — our money — is absurd. In fact, your demands add insult to injury for the McCluskey family and make a mockery of the loss to our community. The actions you took in Lauren’s case, before and after her murder, were worse than incompetent — you actively inflicted harm by neglecting to take her situation seriously. And to Miguel Deras, in absolutely no way should you receive compensation for showing off intimate photos of Lauren to your coworkers at the exact place she was murdered just hours after her death. It’s difficult to imagine being so sleazy and unhinged as to not only do something so unspeakably perverse but ask to be compensated for the fact that it made you look bad. Officers like you are the reason people in your profession are nicknamed “pigs.”

The five of you also claim that you were scapegoated — that it was “institutional failings” that resulted in Lauren’s death. Our university and policing institutions did fail Lauren, but you were a part of those institutions, and you contributed to that failure. Your unemployment status and damaged reputation are your own fault — the U and its student body owe you nothing. On the contrary, you owe us more than you can imagine, much less repay.


The Daily Utah Chronicle Editorial Board is a group of senior opinion journalists who rely on research and debate to write staff editorials. Editorials represent the majority view of the editorial board and are written separately from the newsroom.