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UPDATE: UW changes Rome study abroad program after student’s death

SPRING GREEN (WKOW) — Federal court documents indicate attorneys have settled a lawsuit filed in the death of UW-Madison student Beau Solomon.

In 2017, Solomon’s parents filed a lawsuit against John Cabot University, a college where Solomon was studying abroad in Italy at the time of his death. He was robbed, attacked and found dead in the Tiber River in 2016.

The lawsuit claims in the past 10 years, there have been at least five, suspicious deaths of teenagers and young adults near the John Cabot campus. Two were American students studying abroad. Four of those incidents happened between 2014 and 2015.

The lawsuit alleges the university never informed UW-Madison or Beau Solomon about these incidents or the suspension of a University of Iowa partnership after the death of one of its students in 2015.

UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone tells 27 News UW changed its study abroad program in Rome starting in summer 2018. The campus is now affiliated with CIEE Open Campus Center, which also operates in Berlin and Paris. McGlone says it is more immersive, cheaper and provides greater program flexibility for students.

The university says safety is a top priority and released the following statement to 27 News:

The safety of our students is our top priority. While all risks cannot be eliminated, UW-Madison takes numerous steps to ensure that our programs operate in safe environments. We also provide significant resources to students, including a combination of online and in-person orientation resources before departure, and an additional on-site orientation is provided upon arrival

There is more attention and resources being given to safety and security issues for UW-Madison students going abroad than at any time in the past. Our returning students tell us that they generally feel safe and well-supported by their preparation for the experience.

We continue to believe that the overwhelmingly positive educational experiences provided by study abroad programs are an important part of a college education. We also believe that we’re applying the right resources and working together with public agencies to mitigate risks to our students abroad.

The University of Iowa ended its partnership with John Cabot University in 2015 after the death of 20-year-old Andrew Mogni. He fell in January 2015 the same day he arrived in the country. Police initially said it was an accidental fall, but university officials said it is possible a robbery happened before or after so they didn’t know whether a crime caused Mogni’s injuries.

Iowa’s Media Relations Director Anne Bassett released the following statement to 27 News:

University of Iowa International Programs is committed to helping keep students as safe and secure as possible during their travel experience.

The university’s decision to suspend its relationship with John Cabot University in 2015 was made out of concern for the safety of students who go out at night in the Trastevere area.

27 News reached out to officials at John Cabot University but we did not hear back.

An attorney for Solomon’s family declined to share details of the settlement agreement.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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