The “Yes Means Yes” bill was a big deal when Jerry Brown, the governor of California, signed it into law in 2014. It made California the first state to pass an “affirmative consent” law requiring all parties to get consent for each touch each time; silence can not be interpreted as consent. Now, it seems, Brown is not so certain about what has been wrought. This week, in an unexpected move, Brown vetoed a new bill that would have broadened the definitions and rules regarding alleged sexual misconduct for students attending California colleges and universities. Brown wrote he could not endorse the bill because of troubling concerns that have arisen in recent years. He noted that since he signed Yes Means Yes, “thoughtful legal minds have increasingly questioned whether federal and state actions to prevent and redress sexual harassment and assault—well-intentioned as they are—have also unintentionally resulted in some colleges’ failure to uphold due process for accused students.”
theatlantic.com By Emily Yoffe
Positive legislation, Charges Dropped Against Males, Girls Charged for Making False Accusations
On Monday Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel ordered Pomona College to dismiss the college’s findings and two-semester suspension of an accused male student, finding that Pomona College’s Title IX disciplinary process unlawfully denied the student a fair hearing.
Last July, Pomona College found the accused student responsible for sexual misconduct and issued the suspension following a campus hearing, which the female accuser refused to attend. On July 26, 2016, John Doe, as the wrongfully accused student is identified in court records, appealed Pomona College’s Title IX action to the California Superior Court, and named Samuel D. Glick, Chairman of the Pomona College Board of Trustees, Miriam Feldblum, Dean of Students, and Darren Mooko, Pomona College’s Title IX Coordinator and Diversity Officer as respondents. In August 2016, Judge Strobel ordered Pomona College to stay the suspension pending a final ruling on John Doe’s appeal, which has now been issued against Pomona College.
In her final ruling, Judge Strobel expressed particular concern about Pomona College’s denial of the accused student’s right to question the complainant at a hearing, in light of last year’s Court of Appeal decision involving the University of California, San Diego, Doe v. Regents of the University of California (2016) 5 Cal.App.5th 1055.
“Pomona College’s Title IX investigation process has been devastating for the student and his entire family,” said Mark Hathaway, attorney for John Doe. “Pomona College presumed him guilty from the start and discounted evidence that he was the victim and wrongfully accused by a female student from another college. John Doe is glad to finally have vindication.”
California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB169, there by refusing to codifying 2011 Obama era guidelines. Thank you Jerry for supporting the presumption of innocence! Read Gov. Brown’s veto statement here.
This is my story about how a Title IX regulatory regime designed to crack down on sexual assault managed to ensnare me, a professor, for telling colleagues 20 years ago about how I proposed to my wife…As is customary, I was not immediately notified I was facing sexual harassment charges and initially, my Title IX inquisitor refused to tell me I was accused of sexual harassment and gender discrimination…The investigator became much more conciliatory once he learned I’d retained counsel. Most of the accused, particularly students, aren’t so fortunate.
deseretnews.com By Nicholas Wolfinger
According to a recent headline by Rasmussen Reports, “Most Americans Agree with DeVos on Sexual Misconduct Cases.” That headline however is an understatement. Respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with DeVos’s statement that “Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.” 73 percent agreed with that statement, compared to only 6 percent who disagreed, leaving 20 percent not sure how they felt about it.
thefire.org By Joe Cohn
On Oct. 4, 2017 FIRE testified at the Department of Education’s hearing on regulatory reform, which sought public input on “regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.” FIRE took yet another opportunity to ask the department to prioritize fair procedures and due process for both alleged victims of sexual misconduct and those accused of it. Read the full text of FIRE’s comments, delivered at the department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
thefire.org By Alex Morey
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formally rescinded the Obama administration’s commands that universities use unfair rules in sexual-misconduct investigations- rules that had the effect of finding more students guilty of sexual assault. And she appears also to be preparing for far more forceful due-process protections down the road…The Obama decrees flouted basic principles of sound policymaking and violated the notice-and-comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946.
weeklystandard.com By KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor Jr.
Martha MacCallum speaks with Betsy DeVos on her new directives involving sexual assault policies on campus and restoring due process. @FOXnews.com
Feminist Harvard Law Professor Janet Halley says reform is necessary and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is starting a necessary conversation. Listen to Halley’s interview on All Things Considered @npr.org
It’s frightening that legal minds and educated people see the inclusion of due process rights as “an attack on survivor rights.” More sensible people realize that due process is not an impediment to justice, but in fact necessary to ensure fairness. In a recent survey from the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy, respondents overwhelmingly agreed that due process is necessary for those accused of the heinous crime of sexual assault. Sixty-five percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Republicans, and 67 percent of Independents told researchers they agreed with the statement: “Students accused of crimes on college campuses should receive the same civil liberties protections from their colleges that they receive in the court system.”
thefederalist.com By Ashe Schow
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos vowed to replace the “failed system” of campus sexual assault enforcement, to ensure fairness for both victims and the accused. The speech, harshly critical of rules put in place by the Obama administration, was made to invited guests at George Mason University. “Here is what I’ve learned: the truth is that the system established by the prior administration has failed too many students. Survivors, victims of a lack of due process, and campus administrators have all told me that the current approach does a disservice to everyone involved. That’s why we must do better, because the current approach isn’t working.” Read DeVos’ prepared remarks in full.
washingtonpost.com By Susan Svrluga