Seth Root/The Broadside
Four years ago, Kaylee Sawyer was kidnapped, raped and brutally murdered by a Central Oregon Community College campus security employee.
The day before the anniversary of the murder this year, COCC announced the college settled a lawsuit with the Kaylee Sawyer estate, paying $2 million to Sawyer’s family. Sawyer’s family alleged that COCC facilitated an environment that allowed the tragedy to occur.
Juli VanCleve, Kaylee Sawyer’s mother, wrote on her Facebook wall that the purpose of the lawsuit was about holding COCC accountable for what happened.
“It was about getting justice for my girl and making COCC take responsibility for their role in this horrific crime. And to make sure that the changes that needed to happen happened.”
Juli VanCleve also wrote that though the suit will not bring her daughter back, the suit has helped her finally “grieve my daughter not Kaylee Sawyer the murder victim. I feel that I can finally lay her to Rest In Peace.”
COCC President Laurie Chesley made a statement about the incident. She expressed regret over Sawyer’s death while also reassuring the public that COCC takes the safety of its students and employees seriously.
“COCC sends our thoughts and deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Kaylee Sawyer. Kaylee was a young member of our community who was brutally murdered by a former employee of the college.” Chesley said in a statement, “COCC is committed to ensuring that such a crime never happens again. The safety and well-being of our students, employees, and community are paramount to the college.”
Recently, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law, called Kaylee’s Law, mandating that campus security officers not look like law enforcement. That means that the campus security officers are to distinguish themselves by having different uniforms than police officers. It also means that their vehicles must not have push bars in front of their cars, no “cages” that separate between the front and back seat, and it means that no light bars are atop of the vehicles.
The new law aims to ensure all students and employees are safe on all Oregon campuses and that another incident like what Kaylee suffered will never happen again.