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Education secretary reviewing campus sexual assault policies

President Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has sparked controversy for meeting with people on both sides of the campus sexual assault issue this month in what she termed "listening sessions." Students and parents with the National Coalition of Men Carolinas met with DeVos and other government representatives, as did sexual assault survivors and education professionals.

DeVos is currently reviewing President Obama's Title IX polices as they relate to campus sexual assault. That federal law, which prohibits "discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity" was expanded under the Obama administration to protect those who allege sexual harassment or assault on college campuses.

DeVos said, "I think all students deserve protection….I think there's been a lack of clarity in this area and I think it's time for Congress to address this….It's Congress's role to make laws so I think it's high time for Congress to look at a law that was passed in 1972 and address these issues and finally speak to them and clarify them."

The current Education Department's civil rights office head, Candice Jackson, said that Title IX sexual assault investigations haven't been "fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student." She added fuel to the fire, however, when she said that "the accusations -- 90% of them -- 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 later apologized for that statement.

DeVos has expressed empathy for both victims and those accused. She said, "No student should feel unsafe. No student should feel like there isn't a way to seek justice, and no student should feel the scales are tipped against him or her. We need to get this right, we need to protect all students and we need to do it quickly. It's obvious the toll this places on everyone involved."

If your child has been accused of sexual assault at a college or university, it's essential to seek legal guidance from a Maryland criminal defense attorney who has experience with this type of case. The consequences to a student's future of such an accusation, let alone a conviction, can be significant.

Source: CNN, "Betsy DeVos' 'listening sessions' spark backlash over sexual assault policies," Sophie Tatum and Dylan Stafford, July 13, 2017

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