New ESPN Investigative Documentary Explores 2018 Murder of Utah Student-Athlete Lauren McCluskey
She Repeatedly Sought Help as She Was Stalked, Harassed Before Being Killed by Ex-Boyfriend
Featuring New Reporting and Revelations, LISTEN Debuts Tuesday, March 28, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and ESPN+ on Hulu; A Special Episode of ABC’s 20/20 “Running Out of Time,” Based on ESPN’s Investigation, Airs Friday, March 31, at 9 p.m.
In 2018, University of Utah athlete Lauren McCluskey realized her boyfriend might not be who she thought he was, and worse, that he might be dangerous. She broke up with him and pleaded for help as he stalked and extorted her. No one listened … and she was murdered.
In a new investigative documentary that exposes vast institutional failure, ESPN explores McCluskey’s life, death, and her parents’ quest for answers. ESPN and 20/20 will bring the investigation to viewers and readers in multiple ways: LISTEN will debut on Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and ESPN+ on Hulu, and will be the focus of a two-hour 20/20 report on Friday, March 31, at 9 p.m. on ABC, anchored by David Muir.
McCluskey’s murder by Melvin Rowland made national news. As documented in LISTEN, the people and the institutions responsible for protecting her failed at every turn.
Allegations of police misconduct roiled the state and led to legislative change, and the McCluskey family settled a lawsuit for $13.5 million, but revelations of individual and institutional failure continue.
The 90-minute documentary contains new information and interviews, as well as never-before-seen surveillance video, police and dispatch recordings, previously unreleased video and audio interviews from the homicide investigation, phone recordings and more.
LISTEN is part “true crime” and part accountability journalism. Award-winning ESPN journalists T.J. Quinn and Nicole Noren, who have been reporting the story for four years, give a window into their investigation and ongoing battles to obtain records from the University of Utah.
In addition to interviews with the victim’s parents, Jill and Matt McCluskey of Pullman, Wash., the documentary features numerous people connected to the case speaking publicly about it for the first time, including:
- Sean Reyes — Utah Attorney General
- Miguel Deras — former campus police officer
- Paul Amann – Former Utah Asst. Attorney General, who prosecuted Rowland for two sex crimes
- Megan Thomson — Rowland’s parole agent
- A woman who dated Rowland
Among others in the documentary:
- Two of Lauren McCluskey’s closest friends
- Courtney Tanner – Salt Lake Tribune lead reporter on the story
- Todd Reed – former KTVX/ABC4 (Salt Lake City) news director
- Diamond Jackson – Lauren McCluskey’s university housing adviser
After her death, the Lauren McCluskey Foundation was established to support campus safety, amateur athletics and animal welfare.
LISTEN is directed by Noren, a longtime investigative producer for ESPN. A recipient of five Emmys, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award, Noren has reported extensively on campus gender-based violence. Her most recent short documentary, Betsy & Irv, has received critical acclaim as well as honors including two Real Screen Awards. LISTEN is her debut feature documentary film.
Quinn has been an investigative reporter for ESPN since 2007 after coming from the New York Daily News, where he was a member of its sports investigative team. He also previously worked for the Salt Lake Tribune. He recently was the lead reporter for ESPN’s coverage of WNBA star Britney Griner’s detention in Russia.
Noren, Quinn and William Weinbaum are producers/reporters. Other producers are Mike Drago, Cathy Honeywell, José Morales and Laura Purtell. Rayna Banks is executive producer, and senior executive producers are Chris Buckle and Craig T. Lazarus.
LISTEN will be available for on-demand viewing on ESPN+ and ESPN+ on Hulu after the March 28 premiere.
In addition to the documentary, Lauren McCluskey’s story will be explored in an Outside the Lines segment in a future noon ET edition of SportsCenter and in a future episode of the ESPN Daily Podcast.
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