U.S. Education Secretary Proposes New Rules For College Sex Accusation Investigations

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos earlier today released a long-awaited series of formal proposals for how colleges and universities respond to accusations of “sexual assault” and conduct investigations into such incidents. The proposed revisions would update “guidance recommendations” previously put in place buy the Obama administration, and predictably, Democrats and “#MeToo activists”, howled their opposition, claiming the proposal would allow, perhaps even encourage, sexual assailants to prey on college campuses everywhere as well as allow schools to evade civil liability.

This is no surprise, as these “women’s rights activists” will never cease at their un-reasoned exercises in hyperbole and extremism, when ever anyone has the audacity to disagree with their imbalanced ideas of legal due process and, even, basic fair play. The proposed regulations originate from a 1972 federal law called Title IX, which was initially passed to prevent sex discrimination at colleges and universities that receive federal funding. Most of the law’s focus is on universities, but it also applies to and any other schools that receive federal monies.   The Obama administration had previously issued “guidance” to schools, which wildly favored accusers and nearly stripped accused students of almost any meaningful legal protections provided by the U.S. constitution.  Obama’s Education Department was able to accomplish this end-run around procedure, because their recommendations to schools were made outside the normally-required formal rule-making process.  The result?  Those “guidance recommendations” threw out almost any meaningful substantive and procedural legal rights for anyone accused of sexual assault — and furthermore, under the Obama “guidelines” – the definition of “sexual assault” was broadened so wide as to subject almost anyone to such an accusation.  Predictably, before reading any further, left-leaning feminist activists will interpret this post to be “anti-women” – or, to employ the prevailing lexicon they so favor, “misogynist”.  Not, neither this post, not any of my opinions, are “anti-women”:  They are pro-due process; they are pro-fairness; they are in favor of determining the truth in any given circumstance – not conducting a kangaroo court to satisfy the loudest protect group of the moment.

Employing the Obama administration’s “guidelines” (vs. formal rules), allowed Obama’s Education Department to essentially manufacture new proceedings that had no basis in any relevant statute or Supreme Court opinion.  Again, these “guidelines” – which despite being called “guidelines”, almost every campus in America adopted given the fact that over 95% of them are bastions of liberal thought, were the ultimate in an end-run around appropriate federal protocol. They were the product of militant feminist “activists”, who never cease in their proclamations of victim-hood and “oppression” – even in an era when women occupy, justifiably and with good reason, some of the most powerful positions in the country – in law, in government, in commerce & business, in medicine, in academia, and more.  These activists simply never cease their drumbeat of trying to convince people that every woman, everywhere, is oppressed, abused economically, and sexually pursued and harassed, wherever they go.  Odd – I don’t see that in any of the women I know, of a variety of ages, professions and backgrounds – and I’ve asked many women I know for their opinions on this subject.  Yet we’re told by militant feminists that this conduct is ubiquitous; omnipresent; everywhere, universal; constant.  Really?  As a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who is in the courts every day, this sounds more to me like the dying breaths of once-active organizations like the National Organization for Women, which given all the advancements made in women’s interests, are now largely irrelevant, but to avoid a natural death, continue to declare otherwise through such dramatic claims of “oppression, everywhere”

In my view as a Boston college sex charges defense attorney, those “guidance” recommendations to schools, were as obscene as the subject matter itself. They were and remain far, far too skewed in favor of the accuser, leaving the accused almost defenseless against the proverbial ‘pointed finger’ of accusation. The new proposals released by the U.S. Education Department, are proposed regulations that, following a public comment process and finalized, will carry the force of law.  Secretary Betsy DeVos and her staff worked diligently to strike a more balanced approach to these accusations, and make the investigation process more transparent and reliable. In a statement she said, “We can, and must, condemn sexual violence and punish those who perpetrate it, while ensuring a fair grievance process. Those are not mutually exclusive ideas.” I thoroughly agree. The problem with so much of these types of debates, is that they are influenced too much by extremists, who will not yield to facts and reason.  Instead, they use hyperbole, drama and emotion – instead of reason and rational discourse.  Exhibit “A” to this point?  The very person recommending these rules is a woman.  No matter:  She will be attacked by everyone on the left, as either a “woman-hater” herself, of a fossilized relic from a half-century ago.  Of this, you can be certain.

In Part Two of this post, I’ll discuss what the new proposed rules would require when any schools receiving federal funds respond to accusations of sexual “assault.” I think readers will find it very interesting.