Man who killed Utah student Lauren McCluskey had a history of sex assault that was downplayed in the criminal justice system

(Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office via Associated Press) This undated photo Melvin Rowland, who authorities say shot and killed University of Utah student and track athlete Lauren McCluskey on campus Monday. In 2004, Melvin S. Rowland admitted in court that he had attempted to sexually assault a teenage girl. At a parole hearing eight years later, he said he had forced her to have sex, and that he had done the same to two other women. Four years after that, as he moved in and out of prison, he talked about hurting a parole agent.

At his next parole hearing a few weeks later, his lawyer questioned whether Rowland was violent.

“I don’t have his full file in front of me,” the lawyer, JP Brummer, said in the 2016 hearing. “I don’t know if there are any incidents of violence in the past. I don’t believe so.

“And if that is the case,” Brummer continued, “if he has never actually perpetrated any violence on an individual, then I believe that [threat against a parole officer] can be taken with a grain of salt, as an empty threat. My recommendation would be that he be given another chance at parole.”

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