Assault Survivor Says Officer Misconduct Is One Of The Reasons Victims Fear Coming Forward
Officer Miguel Deras is a former University of Utah police officer who worked on Lauren McCluskey’s sextortion case prior to her October 22, 2018 murder. Deras is once again under fire, this time for allegations that he downloaded images McCluskey provided as evidence to his personal cell phone.
According to a Salt Lake Tribune investigation Deras, who is now employed for the Logan Police Department — reportedly showed at least one of the images to a male coworker and bragged he could look at them whenever he wanted. Logan Police Department says they are investigating the claims, according to a press release shared on Facebook.
“I think it's good, but those actions are so inexcusable," said Morgan Klinkowski, a former Utah State University student who faced extensive backlash when she reporter her 2014 rape. "It just furthers those that have wanting to go forward and report.”
Klinkowski now works as an advocate for fellow survivors and created the non-profit Strong Beautiful Capable to help women who experienced sexual violence further their education. Klinkowski hears the firsthand account of many survivors and is well acquainted with the fear they feel.
“And that officer’s a big reason of why there's that fear," she said. "I think it’s absolutely horrendous that he would do something like that.”
Although there have been changes made at Utah State since her assault, Klinkowski said, over all, there needs to be more communication between campus police and other law enforcement to truly protect students.
“If I had known how it was going to be handled at Utah State, I don't think I ever would have come forward and if I had had heard of an experience, such as Lauren McCluskey's, previously, I would be very hesitant to come forward," Klinkowski said. "It just seems to be a repeated thing that they're unable to handle the complexity of these claims, and they are complex, they are difficult, but that's why you're there.”
The University of Utah said there is no evidence to the claims, but Logan City Police Department is conducting its own investigation.
"We are taking the allegations seriously and are investigating the claims while ensuring due process is being served," said Logan City Chief of Police Gary Jensen, in a separate statement released on Facebook.
After McCluskey’s murder, Utah Representative Andrew Stoddard tried to pass “Lauren’s Law,” a bill to hold gun owners liable if a weapon they owned was used in a crime. Today, he opened a bill to prevent law enforcement from downloading private images and sharing them outside of the investigation.