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Utah Attorney General’s Office Responds to McCluskey Attorneys’ Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE, COUNSEL FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH IN THE MCCLUSKEY LAWSUIT, RESPONDS TO SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 STATEMENT OF MCCLUSKEY ATTORNEYS

SALT LAKE CITY –  Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office responded to a statement made by the McCluskeys’ attorneys and distributed on September 20. In that statement, the McCluskeys’ attorneys criticized the University for filing the motion to dismiss. As counsel for the University of Utah, the AG’s Office disagreed with their criticisms. The AG’s Office statement reads as follows:
 

The University of Utah and the Attorney General’s Office do not take the position in the motion to dismiss that “every concern expressed in Lauren’s McClusky’s complaint is without merit,” as the McCluskeys’ lawyers claim. Rather, the brief filed with the federal court explains that neither Title IX nor the U.S. Constitution permit lawsuits for money damages when campus police or staff do not prevent a student from being harmed by an intruder on campus. As the motion makes clear, the McCluskeys’ legal theories are unprecedented—no court has concluded that a school is liable under Title IX or the U.S. Constitution in these circumstances. As the University’s attorneys, the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for providing the University with the best legal defense possible.  Filing the motion—a common response to a lawsuit in circumstances like this—is part of that defense.
 
This does not mean that the University did not listen to the concerns expressed by the McCluskey family, or that it is not taking responsibility for its students’ safety. Since Lauren’s death, University representatives have repeatedly met with the McCluskeys and many other campus constituents, and the University has taken specific steps to make the campus safer and to ensure its police officers are more responsive to potential relationship violence, including restructuring the campus police department and providing training to its police officers. The University’s actions show it has taken seriously the concerns raised by Lauren’s murder. 
 
Additionally, the motion repeated the allegations made in the McCluskeys’ complaint and the legal standards applicable to the two legal theories of the complaint. It was not meant to, and did not, blame the victim, dismiss the important issue of campus safety, or minimize in any way the terrible tragedy of Lauren McCluskey’s death. 
 
Filing the motion does not preclude the parties from engaging in further discussions to resolve the case. The Attorney General’s Office and the University look forward to continuing these discussions, while still meeting court deadlines, such as the deadline for filing a response to the complaint. 

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AG Reyes Statement on Presidential Memorandum For Disabled Veteran Student Loan Forgiveness

August 22, 2019

Subsequent to President Donald J. Trump signing the presidential memorandum instituting student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans, Utah Attorney General Reyes released the following statement:

“I am thrilled by President Trump’s announcement instituting automatic student loan forgiveness for total and permanently disabled U.S. Veterans. I can’t think of a more deserving group than those who have served, risked their lives and sacrificed their health to protect our nation.

“In many cases, these veterans were injured so severely that it has  compromised their quality of life and ability to earn enough in order to pay off their debt quickly. Far too many of these wounded heroes were either unaware of the availability of loan forgiveness or didn’t know how to access it. President Trump has thankfully removed those hurdles.

“Earlier this year, I had the honor of co-authoring a letter in which I asked U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to take action toward automatic loan forgiveness. The letter was joined by a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general (50 states and Guam).

“I thank Secretary DeVos for listening to us, for her leadership along with the work by the Department of Veterans Affairs on this issue. President Trump deserves great credit for decisively solving a problem he had inherited and that has only worsened over time.”

In Utah, veterans who have questions or need legal help may contact and may be covered by the Utah@EASE program, offering pro bono legal services under the Utah AG office.

In Response to the Lawsuit Filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office

July 23, 2019

In response to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office today, titled the “U.S. vs. The Custodian of Record for the state of Utah”, the Attorney General’s Office responds as follows: 

“This case is about conduct that took place before AG Reyes or his current leadership team were in office.” 

“It involves allegations related to numerous state agencies. As part of its constitutional duties, the Utah AGO is representing those agencies in this matter.” 

“The Utah AGO has cooperated with the OIG investigation to the maximum extent allowable under legal and ethical rules and has been following strict orders of this court not to disclose anything publicly.” 

“In fact, the federal court overseeing this matter issued an order/gave explicit instructions that our office could not discuss in public/with the media the substantive issues in this case.”

“However, we do not believe it is a violation of the court’s order to reiterate/clarify that: (1) this administration had nothing to do with the alleged conduct, (2) the state agencies involved in this matter are represented by the Utah AGO and these agencies will provide defenses of their conduct at the appropriate time when instructed by the court, (3) the AGO has fully cooperated with OIG and handled this case with professionalism and excellence on behalf of the State of Utah.”

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