▶️ After settlement, Kaylee Sawyer’s family thankful justice is served

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

In July of 2016, 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer was assaulted and murdered on the Central Oregon Community College campus by a former campus security officer. Now, four years after her death, her family and the college have reached a 2-million dollar settlement.

But her family says, they’re not satisfied with the outcome.

“If all we had was the conclusion of this civil suit, I think it would be an insult to what we have gone through,” said Kaylee’s father, Jamie Sawyer. “It would be extremely disheartening if this was the only end result after four years.

The last four years have been a long journey for members of Kaylee Sawyer’s family.

In January of 2018, Kaylee’s murderer, Edwin Lara, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.

In May of 2019, legislation named after Kaylee, meant to protect students and citizens by clearly defining the role of Campus Public Safety employees, was signed into law.

A year later, they reached an agreement to end any further litigation with the college.

“Kaylee’s Law ended up forcing the change that needed to happen,” said Sawyer. “If we ended up with this right now and we had no Kaylee’s Law, I am very confident that the college would be unlikely to make the changes that were required.”

Both the college’s president and board chair put out statements, sending their “thoughts and deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Kaylee Sawyer”…and explaining that “the safety and well-being of our students, employees and community are paramount to the college.”

“You hold your breath for three and a half years and you’re all of a sudden like, ‘Oh….that’s it?’” Sawyer said.

“It happened so fast that I don’t think we’ve processed it,” Kaylee’s stepmother Crystal Sawyer said.

Despite what Sawyer says feels like an “anti-climactic” ending, they are satisfied that they gave Kaylee a voice.

“We managed to have two miraculous things come from this, which makes her life even that much more purposeful, which gives you a little bit of solace,” Jamie said.

And that her legacy will live on.

“Four years and we’re still talking about her,” said Crystal. “For us, it will always be. I think her legacy is: don’t forget what happened.”

Tomorrow will mark four years since Kaylee Sawyer’s death.

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