A former University of Utah police officer will not face criminal charges for showing off explicit photos of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey to his co-workers.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Thursday that his office has declined to prosecute Miguel Deras. While he believes the officer’s actions were “definitely reckless,” Gill said there is no Utah law for addressing this type of police misconduct.
“We realized there was no real statute we could use for this case,” Gill said. “We’re incensed like everyone else by the behavior. It was inappropriate. But if there’s not a statute, there’s nothing we can do.”
The decision was announced after the last day Gill could have filed misdemeanor charges for abusing evidence. The statute of limitations has now expired.
Though the Utah Department of Public Safety found in August that Deras had inappropriately shown off the pictures of McCluskey to at least three of his male colleagues without a work-related reason, the actual display occurred two years ago in the days before McCluskey was killed on campus in October 2018.
“We just got it so late and were limited in what options we had,” Gill said.
Without many avenues for charges of officer misconduct, Gill’s office examined whether they could charge Deras under what’s called the “revenge porn law” in Utah. With that, sharing or displaying a compromising photo of someone without the person’s consent can be prosecuted. The statute, though, requires proof that the person in the images was harmed. McCluskey’s death, Gill said, made that impossible.
Members of the person’s family being hurt, such as McCluskey’s parents, doesn’t count.
Jill and Matt McCluskey said Thursday that they were disappointed in Gill for “not pursuing justice” in their daughter’s case.
“Instead of helping her, Deras showed her images to other male officers and bragged about it,” they said in an email. “A consequence of Gill’s decision is that women will hesitate to report extortion and harassment for fear that the private information they provide will be compromised, or even leered at, by officers for reasons unrelated to her case.”
Their attorney, Jim McConkie, doesn’t agree with Gill’s reading of the law.
For one thing, he said, Lauren McCluskey was harmed while she was alive by the officer choosing to show off her photos and not spending the time investigating her concerns. And he believes her reputation should be considered a part of her that lives on now.
“What Gill is saying to women with this decision is ‘We can’t help you. Don’t come to us,’” McConkie added.
Gill said he intends to lobby the Utah Legislature to update state law on officer misconduct, particularly as it applies to viewing or showing off sensitive victim photos. But that won’t change anything in Deras’ case.
“There’s genuine concern over what the officer was engaging in,” the district attorney said. “We