“Listen” is a new documentary from ESPN about the life and death of Lauren McCluskey, a University of Utah track and field athlete who was shot and killed on Utah’s campus in October 2018 by her ex-boyfriend.

McCluskey’s death sparked a contentious debate about campus safety after it was revealed that she had been in repeated contact with University of Utah police officers about being scared of Melvin Rowland, who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound the same night he murdered McCluskey.

McCluskey’s parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, eventually reached a $13.5 million settlement with the University of Utah over the school’s handling of Lauren’s complaints.

What really happened to Lauren McCluskey? The inside story of her tragic death
Lauren McCluskey: A timeline of her murder, the University of Utah fallout and settlement

“The university acknowledges and deeply regrets that it did not handle Lauren’s case as it should have and that, at the time, its employees failed to fully understand and respond appropriately to Lauren’s situation. As a result, we failed Lauren and her family,” said Ruth Watkins, who was the University of Utah’s president when the settlement was announced in October 2020, as the Deseret News reported at the time.

ESPN’s new documentary will explore McCluskey’s relationship with Rowland, her efforts to seek help and the fallout from her death, according to a March 21 press release from the ESPN Press Room. It will feature “never-before-seen surveillance video, police and dispatch recordings, previously unreleased video and audio interviews from the homicide investigation, phone recordings and more.”

What happened to Lauren McCluskey?

McCluskey grew up in Pullman, Washington, where she distinguished herself as a high school track and field athlete. She began competing for the University of Utah in 2016 while pursuing a communications degree.

McCluskey found life in Salt Lake City a little overwhelming at first, since it was much bigger than her quiet hometown, as her parents told the Deseret News in 2019. But gradually, she blossomed, and she had busy and fun academic, athletic and social routines by the fall of her senior year.

That fall, she met Rowland at a bar — he introduced himself as Shawn, his middle name — and the pair began to date. At first, McCluskey’s parents and friends were happy and excited for her, but then they began noticing things that made them wonder if McCluskey was OK.

“He was possessive, jealous. He told Lauren he didn’t want her going out downtown, or to friends’ houses or parties, because other men could be there,” the Deseret News reported in 2019.

In early October 2018, McCluskey returned to Pullman to spend time with her family during fall break. While home, she researched Rowland, discovering his full name and actual age. (He was 37, but he had told her he was 28.) McCluskey also found out that “he was a registered sex offender who had spent 10 years in prison,” according to the Deseret News.

McCluskey dumped Rowland when she returned to campus, but then she started receiving threatening texts from unknown numbers. She contacted campus police about the messages, but they told her there wasn’t much that could be done.

The threats continued throughout the month of October, as did McCluskey’s attempts to get help from campus police. The situation came to a tragic end on Monday, Oct. 22, when Rowland attacked McCluskey outside her dorm, shoved her in a car and then shot her multiple times.

What is ESPN’s ‘Listen’ documentary about?

ESPN’s Lauren McCluskey documentary is a 90-minute overview of the circumstances surrounding McCluskey’s death, including how the campus police handled McCluskey’s complaints about Rowland’s behavior.

“Listen” features interviews with Lauren McCluskey’s parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey, as well as Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, a former University of Utah campus police officer and several others who were involved in the investigation of McCluskey’s death.

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The ESPN Press Room describes the documentary as a mixture of true crime reporting and “accountability journalism.” The film offers a peek behind the curtain at the work of ESPN journalists T.J. Quinn and Nicole Noren, who spent four years researching the McCluskey case.

When will ESPN’s Lauren McCluskey documentary be released?

ESPN’s documentary on Lauren McCluskey will premiere on ESPN+ and ESPN+ on Hulu on Tuesday, March 28, at 5 p.m. MDT.

Three days later, ABC will release a “20/20” episode on Lauren McCluskey, titled “Running Out of Time.” It draws on ESPN’s research into her death, according to the ESPN Press Room.

“Listen” will be available on-demand on ESPN+ after its March 28 premiere.

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