SAVE Calls on Dept. of Education to Rescind ‘Flawed’ Sexual Assault Policy

WASHINGTON/September 5, 2012 -- College students across the nation are now returning to campuses where student civil rights are being curtailed by a new sex assault mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Education (DED). Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) is calling on the federal agency to retract its Sexual Assault Directive and restore due process to campuses across the nation.

SAVE, a victim-advocacy organization, worries the new federal requirements will invite a rash of false allegations, ultimately harming the credibility of true victims and dissipating needed services for victims.

In April of 2011 the DED Office for Civil Rights issued its “Dear Colleague” letter that imposed new standards on collegiate sexual assault proceedings. The letter was issued without prior opportunity for public notice and comment.

Under the new policy, the definition of sexual assault is expanded and the defendant barred from cross-examination of the accuser. Rather than the usual “reasonable doubt” standard used in courts of law, colleges are now mandated to use the 50.1% “preponderance of evidence” standard when adjudicating claims of sexual assault.

Following release of the Directive, a number of high-profile debacles have been reported across the country: http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/sex-assault/civil-liberties-took-a-beating/

-- At the University of Virginia, it was announced that a student accused of rape could not be represented by legal counsel.

-- At Yale University, quarterback Patrick Witt lost his opportunity to win a Rhodes Scholarship because the university convened an “informal” judicial proceeding that conducted secret deliberations. Witt was never afforded the chance to respond to the allegations made against him.

-- At Brown University, the daughter of a powerful university benefactor manipulated the administration’s judicial proceedings to contrive the expulsion of a fellow male student. He later sued and settled for an undisclosed amount.

“Allegations of criminal conduct should be left to the criminal justice system,” says SAVE spokesman Michael Thompson. “The Education Department must revoke its flawed sex assault mandate and restore the presumption of innocence at colleges and universities.”

The American Association of University Professors and 12 other organizations have called for removal of the policy: http://www.saveservices.org/falsely-accused/sex-assault/complaints/ Over 65 editorials have criticized the federal mandate as unduly restricting due process rights: http://www.saveservices.org/camp/ded-editorials/

SAVE has created a petition for persons who wish to express their dissatisfaction with the policy: www.accusingu.org .

Contact: Teri Stoddard
Telephone: 301-801-0608
Email: tstoddard@saveservices.org

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