Civil rights groups sue DeVos over sexual assault policy

Civil rights groups sue DeVos over sexual assault policy”

A group of civil rights advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Education Department and its secretary, Betsy Devos, challenging the department's move a year ago to roll back Obama-era guidelines on how colleges and universities should handle sexual assault and sexual violence.

According to the federal lawsuit, filed Thursday, students who once planned to report campus rapes and other types of sexual violence and harassment to university authorities are now more hesitant to come forward.

This "discriminatory mindset not only motivated decision makers at the department, it flows from the top of the Executive Branch", the complaint adds, referring to President Donald Trump.

At that time, the Education Department said that the Obama-era rules "created a system that lacked basic elements of due process and failed to ensure fundamental fairness". "But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes", Devos said when announcing the interim guidance in November.

The lawsuit comes after the department in September rescinded the 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter that required schools to respond promptly to sexual violence reports and demanded the lowest standard of proof, known as "preponderance of the evidence", during sexual violence investigations.

In September, DeVos scrapped Obama-era guidance and replaced it with guidelines that would scale back Title IX investigations by the Office for Civil Rights.

Deadspin pointed out that DeVos ditched the Obama policies two days after meeting with the head of Michigan State University.

"There will be no more sweeping [these crimes] under the rug", DeVos said in a statement announcing the new guidelines. He was sacked by Michigan State in 2016.

They "fall into the category of 'we were both drunk, ' 'we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right, '" Jackson told the newspaper.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

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