Judge dismisses suit against counselors in scholar's death

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the estate of a slain Chinese scholar against two University of Illinois counselors it accused of not taking appropriate steps after the man convicted of killing her spoke to them about his fascination with serial killers.

Judge Colin Bruce ruled Monday that the June 2017 slaying of Yingying Zhang “was simply too remote a consequence of Defendants’ alleged actions to hold them responsible under the federal civil rights law,” The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported.

Zhang's family argued that social workers Jennifer Maupin and Tom Miebach should have done more when Brendt Christensen, who is serving a life sentence for killing Zhang, told them three months before her abduction about his fascination with serial killers and that he had purchased and returned items to move and dispose of a body.

Zhang's body has never been found.

“It is complete speculation that Defendants’ initiation of the treatment plan, and failure to successfully see it through to completion, created or increased a danger to Zhang, as the court has no way of knowing what would have happened had Christensen never been treated,” Bruce wrote in his ruling.

The counselors’ lawyers argued in their motion to dismiss the case that their clients “cannot be held legally responsible for the random and incomprehensible actions of a lone individual committed more than two months after the Social Workers saw Christensen a single time each.”