Education Secretary Betsy Devos has rescinded the Obama-era Title IX Dear Colleague Letter to colleges and universities, which established a crucial part of the Department of Education’s policy on campus sexual assault. Devos has said that the move aims to give colleges and universities more freedom in dealing with campus sexual assault.
The Title IX Dear Colleague Letter
The Dear Colleague Letter in question implemented two important changes in policy several years ago, in an effort to get colleges and universities to crack down on campus sexual assault. The old rules required the colleges use a “preponderance of the evidence” to decide whether a student was or was not responsible for sexual assault.
Opponents of the old rule felt that this wasn’t fair to students accused of sexual assault. The consequences of campus sexual assault can include expulsion and other forms of discipline. The change by Secretary Devos allows colleges to raise the standard to “clear and convincing evidence.”
A statement issued by the department has said that the Obama-era rules “lacked basic elements of fairness.” Advocates of students accused of sexual assault have sought this change since it the old rules were implemented. The Obama-era standard of evidence was controversial at the time of its implementation.
More Changes to Come
Secretary Devos plans to change the rules again following a public comment period which “could take at least several months,” and colleges may continue to adhere to the lower standard of proof in the meantime. However, Secretary Devos has not given any indication of what the new rule for standards of evidence might be.
However, some colleges may not be legally able to raise the standard of evidence for investigating sexual assault cases on campus. Some states have passed laws requiring colleges to use the lower, preponderance of evidence standard. In the near future, different colleges may evaluate and investigate sexual assault cases in different ways, leading to vastly different environments for students. Some students disciplined for sexual assault under the old rules have already successfully sued their colleges for violation of their legal rights.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Sexual harassment and sexual assault are serious charges, whether they happen in school, in the workplace, or in your personal time. This is just one of the reasons it’s important to make sure you have someone on your side who represents your best interests. If you have been charged with sexual assault, it’s crucial that you have an experienced defense on your side to ensure you retain your rights.
The attorneys of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm have decades of experience defending clients against many different types of criminal charges. Let us help you defend yourself throughout the process in the best way possible. To request a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, call us at (518) 274-5820 fill out our online contact form as soon as possible.