Attorney General Becerra Calls on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Defend Civil Rights Protections for Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault

Thursday, July 20, 2017
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

U.S. Department of Education has signaled that it may roll back Title IX protections for survivors of sexual violence

SACRAMENTO- Yesterday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with 19 fellow Attorneys General, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expressing serious concerns regarding reports that the Department of Education is prepared to undo protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.

The letter questions the Department of Education’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson’s ability to oversee a fair process for evaluating sexual assault policies. Those concerns intensified after Ms. Jackson reportedly claimed that the majority of campus sexual assault accusations “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’.”

“Sexual assault is a plague on our college campuses. We must hold schools accountable and work to prevent and combat this menace, not make callous comments about sexual assault that create an environment where survivors feel alone coming forward to seek help,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Reports that the U.S. Department of Education may be going backwards and undoing civil rights protections that are critical to the health and well-being of college students in California and throughout the nation are downright appalling. It would be irresponsible for Secretary DeVos to abandon her obligation to uphold civil rights protections.”

The letter requests that Secretary DeVos reaffirm existing guidance for complying with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. That guidance makes clear that when schools investigate allegations of sexual harassment or domestic violence, they should apply the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which requires them to find that it is more likely than not that the alleged conduct occurred. This standard ensures that students who have been subjected to sexual violence are treated the same as victims of other Title IX violations.

Attorney General Becerra was joined on the letter by the Attorneys General of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont.

A copy of the letter sent to the U.S. Department of Education is attached to the electronic version of this release at oag.ca.gov/news.

 

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