Trump administration 'restores due process' with new campus sexual assault regs

The new rules will replace the Obama-era guidelines that denied students accused of sexual assault to hearings and the right to cross-examine their accusers.

The Department of Education unveiled changes to Title IX regulations that include new protections for students accused of sexaul assault.

After more than a year of anticipation, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released the final version of Title IX sexual assault regulations for colleges and universities. The new ruling is set to give more protections and rights to accused students. 

The regulations also define sexual harassment and outline clear guidelines for colleges and universities to report sexual assault on campus. 

Under the new ruling, the Department of Education will grant accused students the right to cross-examination as well as a live hearing. 

In a virtual press conference, DeVos defended criticisms of the new protections for accused students by saying that “cross-examination is an important part of seeking justice and ensuring that the truth is found.”  She also celebrated the department’s new rules. 

[RELATED: UC counters DeVos’ proposed Title IX due process changes]

“More than two years ago I pledged to tackle this issue head-on with the regulation that carries the force of law,” DeVos said. “Today our team is delivering on that promise and is advancing a truly noble cause: equal access to education for all.”

DeVos also further explained the department’s first-ever definition of sexual harassment. 

”U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took historic action today to strengthen Title IX protections for survivors of sexual misconduct and to restore due process in campus proceedings to ensure all students can pursue an education free from sex discrimination. For the first time ever, the Department’s Title IX regulations define sexual harassment, including sexual assault, as unlawful sex discrimination,” the Education Department said. 

In addition to due process protections, the DOE will require schools to choose between a preponderance of evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard when ruling on sexual assault cases. The DOE will also prevent schools from having the accused and accuser face each other throughout the investigation process and will bar schools from using the “single-investigator” model, which previously allowed decision-makers to also serve as investigators. 

DOE Assistant Secretary Kenneth Marcus called the new Title IX regulations a “game-changer.” 

[RELATED: ACLU bashes Betsy DeVos’ Title IX proposal]

“The new Title IX regulation is a game-changer,” Marcus said. “It establishes that schools and colleges must take sexual harassment seriously, while also ensuring a fair process for everyone involved. It marks the end of the false dichotomy of either protecting survivors, while ignoring due process, or protecting the accused, while disregarding sexual misconduct. There is no reason why educators cannot protect all of their students – and under this regulation there will be no excuses for failing to do so.”

The Department of Education initially announced the first set of changes in November 2018, which primarily focused on ensuring accused students had due process protections. The final ruling will take effect in August 2020.

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