Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary, announced on September 7th that her department would review the Title IX sexual assault guidelines set in place by the Obama administration.
The administration created the guidelines following the campus rape hysteria drummed up by feminists. Feminist cited a study that claimed 1 in 5 women in college experience sexual violence. Later studies showed that the rate was grossly inflated and place the actual rate at about 1 in 52.
The major issue with the guidelines is that it requires colleges to lower the standard of proof in sexual assault cases. I highlighted this in a post from 2014. The standard was lower to a preponderance of evidence, which is the same standard used in civil court. This standard only requires a more likely than not finding in order to rule in favor of the complainant. One can see the immediate problem when applying this to a criminal offense. It is entirely possible for an innocent person to appear guilty based on limited or circumstantial evidence.
However, the new guidelines make matters much worse. As I noted in another post, accused students are not afforded council, not allowed to the see the evidence against them, not allowed to cross-examine witnesses, not allowed to present witnesses, and often are not informed of the complaints until the process is well underway. This forces the accused to prove their innocence, something that is a clear violation of constitutional law.
It also opens the system up to gross manipulation by female student to lie about male students assaulting as a means of attention-seeking, revenge, or pure malice. As Devos notes, because the standards are now so low:
“Any perceived offense can be turned into a full blown Title IX investigation. If everything is harassment than nothing is.”
That is precisely what has happened on many college campuses. Any woman can claim harassment or sexual assault, even when there is clear evidence the sexual encounter was consensual or never happened. The accused male students then face public humiliation and ostracism, potential expulsion from school, and a black mark on their record.
What is truly disturbing is that this can happen even when a criminal investigation fails to find any evidence of crime or exonerates the accused. You read that right: the school can and in some does hold male students “guilty” even when a criminal investigation, and in some cases their own internal investigation, shows that no crime happened.
One would think that anyone concerned with addressing sexual violence and punishing actual rapists would find the above situation appalling. Yet following DeVos’s comments, several progressive media outlets released articles condemning the desire to rescind these changes. Most worrying is that the bulk of the complaints attack the concept of due process as essentially outdated and unneeded in sexual assault cases.
Due process is guaranteed twice in the United States Constitution under the 5th and 14th Amendments. It is the only concept repeated twice in the Constitution, which illustrates its importance. As defined, it requires that “all legal procedures set by statute and court practice, including notice of rights, must be followed for each individual so that no prejudicial or unequal treatment will result.”
The entire point of this is to prevent the precise situation created by the Obama-era guidelines: forcing an accused person to prove his innocence.
It is shocking that anyone concerned with preventing sexual violence would take issue with ensuring that innocent men and boys do not end up imprisoned or expelled for crimes they did not commit or ones that never happened. The criticism of the changes occurred immediately because they are painfully obvious. If you disallow an accused person to question witnesses, to have legal representation, or to even know who accused him, the process lacks any equity. Rather, it presents an open invitation for manipulation, as we saw with the mattress girl and UVA cases.
I hope that rescinding the guidelines will address some of the problems caused by feminists drumming up hysteria. While it will not stop feminists from lying, it may prevent young men from having their lives ruined for no reason.