DeVos Policy May Discourage Sexual-Assault Complaints, Suit Says

Betsy DeVos

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s guidance on how universities should handle student claims of sexual assault violates federal civil rights law and may discourage victims from filing complaints, a women’s rights group said in a lawsuit.

The Department of Education’s “Q and A on Campus Sexual Misconduct,” issued in September as a replacement for earlier Obama administration guidelines, illegally raises the standard of proof needed to hold physical offenders responsible, the nonprofit organization Equal Means Equal said in a complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Boston.

"This means that the more serious physical offenders of sex-based civil rights harms are less likely to be held responsible compared to less serious verbal offenders," the group said in its complaint. The guidance requires a more onerous “clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof rather than the civil rights standard of “preponderance of the evidence," it said.

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