By: David Jesse featuring IWF

Colleges across America now must hold live testimony hearings with cross-examination in campus sexual assault cases, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Wednesday in putting new rules in place.

In doing so, DeVos moved the on-campus administrative investigations closer to mirroring a court hearing, complete with questions directed at the people who say they were assaulted. The new regulations are effective Aug. 14.

“We can continue to combat sexual violence, continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our core values of fairness, presumption of innocence, and due process,” DeVos said in releasing the regulations. “Our action today brings us closer to fulfill Title IX’s purpose – fair education for all.”

Reaction to DeVos’ new regulations was swift. Victims’ rights group decried them and groups supporting rights for the accused praised them.

“The new regulations restore the presumption of innocence, require schools to notify accused students of the specific allegations against them in a timely manner, and allow both parties a meaningful opportunity to tell their version of events to an impartial arbiter,” said the Independent Women’s Forum, praising DeVos’ ruling.

Others weren’t as happy.

“The rule does not prioritize students and survivors, but rather tips the scales in favor of named abusers and protects universities and their bottom lines. If this rule goes into effect, schools will be shielded from liability for ignoring or covering up sexual harassment,” Know Your IX said in a statement on Twitter.

Other organizations agreed, saying victims may be less likely to come forward if they have to sit before the person they say assaulted them.

“This final rule is an abomination and, if it takes effect, will silence sexual assault survivors and limit their educational opportunity,”  said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “The rule is the antithesis of what Title IX was intended to do. All students deserve an educational environment free from sex discrimination and violence. We will work with our allies to fight this rule and send it to the dustbin.”

In late 2018, DeVos announced herproposed rule changes to Title IX in a federal process that required a comment period.

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