The Trump Administration's promise to roll back Obama-era Title IX guidance is slowly coming to fruition. Head of the Education Department, Betsy DeVos, has an approach to reform that is nothing short of controversial, from her highly publicized meetings with mothers of male accused students to her linear focus on due process.
In the past, I've covered the leak of the administration's unofficial plans, which were initially outed by the New York Times. The new policies contained what observers of the administration expected: regulations that significantly strengthened the rights of accused students, and minimized liability in the handling of sexual misconduct cases - two reform efforts that DeVos and her associates have fervently addressed.
Now, details about the latest draft of the proposed plans have been revealed in a new report. The upcoming federal rules will state that college students accused of sexual assault must be allowed to cross-examine their accusers. DeVos will likely publish the updated rules in November, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The earlier draft of the rule changes suggested that cross-examination would only be mandated in situations when a school's adjudication process entails a live hearing. The current version, however, would make the provision mandatory for all situations. The latest draft details that in a hearing, the accused and accuser could be seated in separate rooms, with questions posed through a neutral party. But there will be some topics that the accused cannot ask about, such as details about their accuser's sexual history.
The Obama administration discouraged cross-examinations in sexual misconduct hearings because they run a risk of accusers becoming traumatized, as well as them being bullied and harassed. The previous administration felt as if the inherent invasive nature of cross-examinations would discourage victims from coming forward.
Due process advocates, on the other hand, feel that cross-examination is necessary in sexual misconduct cases. They often compare school hearings to courtrooms, saying that courts use them in criminal cases to determine credibility, and could serve the same purpose in schools. They consider the rule a big step in renewing due process rights for those accused of campus sexual assault.
This news comes in the midst of a shift some schools have made in the name of due process. Last week, the University of Michigan said it is revising its sexual misconduct policy to include an in-person hearing where complaint parties would be able to ask each other questions.
As for changes in federal law, I'll keep you updated.
Nationwide Title IX Advisor
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are upheld is to retain a student defense attorney. For respondents, especially, the assistance of an attorney advisor is invaluable in the Title IX process. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill, experience, and expertise to help you preserve your entitled rights under Title IX and your school's policy. For a case evaluation or more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.