Trump Administration Official Sued By ACLU Over Sexual Assault Rule Change

Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education, speaks as President Donald Trump looks on at the DeltaPlex Arena,
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the Trump administration’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos over changes in regulations governing how K-12 campuses and colleges handle allegations of sexual assault.

Yahoo News reported that the lawsuit, filed Thursday, claims that DeVos’ changes could “inflict significant harm” on victims and “dramatically undermine” the civil rights of accusers.

The changes are to a 1972 law referred to as Title IX, which was enacted to prevent gender discrimination on campuses that received federal financial aid.

DeVos’ changes that have caused the uprising shored up the due process rights of those being accused of assault and harassment. The changes make the educational institutions’ hearing process more similar to that of a courtroom, including live hearings and cross-examinations.

The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of four groups, including Know Your IX and Girls for Gender Equity, in the U.S. District Court in Maryland.

The ACLU’s New York-based law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, which filed the suit, stated what it believes to be the problems with Title IX changes.

“This new federal effort to weaken Title IX makes it more difficult for victims… to continue their educations and needlessly comes amid a global pandemic.”

Last week, DeVos recorded a message about the issue of grievances between students being heard and ruled on under the revised law. The education secretary assured viewers that it was her utmost priority to ensure fairness and lay the foundation for a just criminal trial in cases where the accusations carry on outside the education setting.

“Justice is not a political issue. It can only come from a process everyone can trust. A process widely believed to deliver fair and reliable results … Too often these young women and men suffered unthinkable acts, mustered the courage to report them, endured a grievance process, and thought they had achieved justice only to have it overturned in courts of law.”

Critics are frustrated that there is reportedly a heavier burden on those alleging sexual harassment than on students who allege other forms of harassment, and they fear that tighter restrictions on the reporting process will lead to a smaller percentage of assaults being reported.

School issues are still currently on hold, however, thanks to the global coronavirus pandemic. As The Inquisitr previously reported, there is currently still some disagreement between President Donald Trump and his advisors about when schools will reopen after nationwide closures.