The New York Times reported that a new lawsuit was filed against Trump appointed Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos alleging that she and the Department of Education are violating federal law and discriminating against sexual assault accusers. The lawsuit was filed by Equal Rights Advocates, SurvJustice, and the Victim Rights Law Center in the Northern District of California.
Last year in September, just as the fall college semester was getting underway, DeVos announced new rules Title IX targeted directly at Obama administration’s directive regulating how colleges and universities were to report sexual assault cases. Under the Obama rules, schools were directed to look for a “preponderance of evidence.” This means that schools had to determine if there was more than a 50% chance of guilt, which is a lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The difference between the two is that although a preponderance of evidence may not hold up in a criminal court, it would meet the standard of evidence in a civil case.
It was reported by Politico.com that before making the decision, DeVos spoke with organizations on both sides of the issue including, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), Families Advocating for Campus Equality, and the National Coalition for Men(NCFM) with the later two advocating for the accused.
Recent headlines on the NCFM website include, NCFM Adviser Gordon E. Finley, PH.D., Sex: The New War on Men, Another NCFM Blast from the Past, NCFM Update, Mariposa County Moves to Sell Jerry Cox’s Ranch After Fake Rape Case I Exposed – Receiver and County Want Cox to Pay Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars and NCFM Member Jim Jackson A Few Quick Thought On The Current Sexual Abuse Hysteria.
In the last of the referenced article, commenting on the recent #MeToo movement, not only does the author suggests that the line for sexual harassment is vague and can be mild or severe. The article also shamefully plays partisan politics with the issue of sexual harassment by suggesting that Barack Obama who said he had to be persistent when trying to get Michelle Obama to marry him, by today’s standard could have been considered sexual harassment. The article also references Bill Clinton, saying he asked Hillary to marry him three times and asked if she would have said no the third time, could that have been considered sexual harassment? Furthermore, the article also attempts to shame actress Rose McGowen for using her sexuality, saying that “women can show their body parts, but men can’t and that it seems that all male sexuality is potentially criminal nowadays.”
Judging by the decision move forward with rescinding Title IX, DeVos and/or her handlers seemed to have found the more compelling arguments to be on the side of the accused rather than the accusers. This sentiment strikes a similar tone to Trump’s “very fine people on both sides” statement referring alt-right tiki torch carrying, “you will not replace us,” chanting protesters Charlottesville, North Carolina.
Excerpts from DeVos’s statement regarding the department’s decision to rescind Title IX last year on September 7th, at George Mason University are as follows:
Let me be clear at the outset: acts of sexual misconduct are reprehensible, disgusting, and unacceptable. They are acts of cowardice and personal weakness, often thinly disguised as strength and power. …
There is no way to avoid the devastating reality of campus sexual misconduct: lives have been lost. Lives of victims. And lives of the accused. …
We need to remember that we’re not just talking about faceless “cases.” We are talking about people’s lives. Everything we do must recognize this before anything else. …
The truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved.
Survivors aren’t well-served when they are re-traumatized with appeal after appeal because the failed system failed the accused. And no student should be forced to sue their way to due process. …
Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach. With the heavy hand of Washington tipping the balance of her scale, the sad reality is that Lady Justice is not blind on campuses today. …
Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.
The notion that a school must diminish due process rights to better serve the “victim” only creates more victims…
True to form, when you consider Trump’s tendency to side with the accused rather than the accuser regarding of sexual misconduct like in the case of Roy Moore and Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, this turn of events with regard to Title IX was not really surprising.
When asked about former Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly’s release from his job and $32 million dollar sexual harassment settlement, during an interview with the New York Times, the President said,
“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person. Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled,” he told The Times. “Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”
Of Roy Moore, when asked what he thought of the allegations against him, the Preside replied,
“He totally denies it…He says it didn’t happen,” the president told reporters at the White House. “You have to listen to him, also.”
What else would he say? Afterall, Trump himself has been accused of sexual assault and/or misconduct by more than 17 women. However, of course, he also “totally denies it.” The self-proclaimed, “pussy grabber,” says none of it ever happened.”
Candice Jackson, the Department of Education acting secretary for civil rights who once referred to President Trump’s sexual harassment accusers as “fake victims,” was also named in the lawsuit.
According to the New York Times report, the newly filed lawsuit claims that the new Title IX rules under DeVos’s guidance have had a “chilling effect” on assault reporting and continues…
In the complaint, SurvJustice said that the group had not only seen “a decrease in the number of sexual violence survivors seeking its services,” but also observed a trend in educational institutions not responding at all, or not responding as promptly to its clients’ complaints.
The group also wrote of “students who have questioned whether they should continue with their plans to report sexual violence given the uncertainty regarding their legal protections and an anticipated lowered likelihood of success created by the policy change.”
Laura Dunn, an attorney and the founder of SurvJustice worked with Vice Preside Joe Biden to craft laws and guidance for schools and was herself a victim of sexual assault while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Laura’s goal is to ensure that students who come forward to report their abuses are protected.