Back in 2011, the Obama administration made a directive demanding universities to improve their policies regarding sexual assault claims on campus. In an effort to empower and encourage victims to come forward in the event of a sexual assault, many changes were required of university policy and procedure in how to handle sexual assault complaints. One major change was to empower a single investigator who is a university employee or outside expert to do all of the interviews regarding everyone involved in a sexual assault complaint. This investigator would interview the accused, the accuser, and any other witnesses. This investigator then compiles the results of these interviews into reports and makes recommendations. This approach led to many complaints saying that the accused is not being afforded due process or a right to cross examine their accuser. Many lawsuits against universities were then filed by both survivors of sexual assault as well as men who were falsely accused. The common theme in these lawsuits is that the universities were not handling these cases properly and were not qualified to lead these types of investigations.
The Changes Implemented
The United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has announced new rules regarding the policy and procedure of sexual assault claims on college campuses nationwide. DeVos’ plan requires questioning to be directed at accusers during a hearing that is meant to mirror a normal court hearing. This change in procedure represents a major ideological shift in how these cases are viewed. DeVos has stated that the Obama measures led to “kangaroo courts” because of the accused’s inability to have due process or be able to question his accuser. DeVos’ plan is said to move closer to fulfilling Title IX’s purpose, which is overall fairness for both sexes. Title IX is a law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination at universities receiving any funding from the federal government. Title IX defines what sexual assault and harassment are and outlines what a school is required to do in response to allegations of sexual assault or harassment. Schools who do not follow Title IX’s requirements can face heavy fines. The rules implemented by DeVos take effect on August 14, 2020.
The implementation of these rules is a big win for those accused of sexual assaults on campus. While the old approach made the allegations and approach more private, this brings them out in the open as it would anywhere else other than a college campus. Those accused of sexual assault and harassment on a college campus can now face their accusers in an open hearing and subject them to cross examination to test their story, their memory, and any reasons that could influence her to not be telling the truth. Previously, those accused of sexual assault were limited to the opinion and findings of a single investigator who may not even be a trained police officer or other investigative official. Opponents of these changes include many universities who state that these procedures and policies conflict with the educational missions and goals of their institutions. They feel that these new directives put undue pressure on colleges and universities as being capable of mimicking law enforcement agencies and courts. Officials at these universities also feel that putting these cases out in the public would be humiliating to the accuser and opens her up for attack from other students. On the other side of the coin, an accused faces the same potential public scrutiny. It is likely that this issue will end up being determined by the United States Supreme Court.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with sexual assault on a college campus or are currently being investigated, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.