Trump Administration Poised to Issue Final Rule on Campus Sex Assault

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 22: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies during a House House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, May 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. The hearing focus is on examining the policies and priorities of the U.S. Department of Education. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Trump administration is about to release its long-awaited final rule regarding the handling of campus sexual assaults and misconduct, says a report at the Washington Post.

The overhaul of Obama-era Title IX campus sex assault policies is expected to emphasize due process for those accused of sexual misconduct, including the ability to cross-examine accusers.

The proposed rule was released a year ago and received over 124,000 public comments, including many criticisms from feminist groups.

According to WaPo, though the final rule has not been released, feminist groups have already planned a legal challenge in the courts.

In September 2017, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the Trump administration would be scrapping the Obama era’s policies regarding cases of sexual misconduct on college campuses.

DeVos stressed in a new “interim Q & A” that all students must be protected from discrimination in school proceedings to investigate sexual assault allegations.

In her announcement, DeVos cited cases of students, nearly all male, who were either expelled or punished in some other manner after being accused of misconduct actions that were never proven.

“Instead of working with schools,” DeVos said, “the prior administration weaponized the Office for Civil Rights.”

Many Democrats and feminist groups have used the debunked “1 in 5” statistic to urge opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed rule. The stat refers to the notion that “one in five women experience sexual assault or attempted assault while in college.”

However, the “1 in 5” statistic — spread widely by the Obama administration through its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — is “wildly at odds with the official crime statistics,” said American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident scholar and former philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the actual rate of sexual assault on college campuses is 6.1 per 1,000 students, or .03 per five. The rate of rape and sexual assault for non-students is actually 1.2 times higher than for students — 7.6 per 1,000.

“Where did the CDC find more than a million and nearly 14 million victims of sexual violence that professional criminologists somehow overlooked?” Sommers asked. “It found them by using a poorly constructed telephone survey with a low response rate and a non-representative sample of respondents. No one interviewed was asked if they had been raped or sexually assaulted.”

Armed with the false “1 in 5” statistic, however, the Obama administration threatened to cut funding to colleges and universities that did not implement its policy.

The Obama administration also instructed colleges and universities to use the lesser “preponderance of evidence” standard to resolve allegations of sexual misconduct, rather than the higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard.

To promote its policy, the Obama-era education department engaged the media and allies such as Planned Parenthood with the statistic, and even the former president himself repeated it in his speeches.

The Obama policy delivered “kangaroo courts” on college campuses in which mostly male students were accused of sexual misconduct with little information about the allegations against them and no recourse to defend themselves.

Multiple lawsuits have now been filed by students accused of sexual misconduct who say their right to due process was dismissed in college and university “courts.”

In June, Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, led a unanimous, all-woman panel of judges in reversing a lower court’s decision to dismiss a college student’s claim his right to due process was not honored and that he was discriminated against because of his sex in a campus sex assault investigation.

In her decision in Doe v. Purdue University, Barrett, who was appointed by President Trump, observed “John Doe” “adequately alleged” Purdue University violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights “by using constitutionally flawed procedures to determine his guilt or innocence,” and that the school had violated Title IX “by imposing a punishment infected by sex bias.”

Barrett added the evidence in the case suggests the Purdue Advisory Committee “decided that John was guilty based on the accusation rather than the evidence.”

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