The father of a student falsely accused of sexual assault is speaking out after President Biden ordered education officials to start considering how to roll back Trump administration changes to Title IX, which had bolstered the rights for those accused of sexual misconduct.
Corey Mock, a former wrestler at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was accused of sexual assault in 2014 after he had an intimate encounter at a party. A school adjudicator agreed the moment involved bad judgment but was not assault.
“Within a couple of days, she reversed her decision, with no evidence, no explanation. That was the moment when we knew, there’s … something’s going on,” said his father, C.D. Mock, during an appearance on “Fox News @ Night.”
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Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had put her rules in place of the Obama administration’s, which, in a 2011 Dear Colleague letter, outlined for schools how to fairly conduct Title IX proceedings. Biden signaled he would roll back the Trump administration changes and now is poised to do so.
The Obama-era guidance required universities to probe essentially all complaints of sexual misconduct, no matter how long ago they allegedly occurred. It also further required schools to maintain copious records ahead of possible complaints and strongly discouraged schools from “allowing the parties personally to question or cross-examine each other during the hearing.”
“This is where the Obama administration weaponized the schools because they basically said if we find that you have not acted properly in these situations, we’re gonna remove your federal funding,” Mock said.
DeVos said the previous approach did a “disservice to everyone involved” and “every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not pre-determined.”
Her rules still shielded alleged victims from having to come face-to-face with accusers or answer questions personally drafted by the accused. But they offered a new guarantee for accused individuals to ask questions through a representative and to cross-examine other witnesses.
The changes by DeVos required that sexual harassment be defined as both “severe and pervasive” – not one or the other as previously labeled – and schools could be held accountable for mishandling complaints only if they acted with “deliberate indifference.”
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Sage Carson, manager of “Know Your IX,” an advocacy group for students protected by Title IX, said the changes by DeVos made survivors less willing to report.
“Right now, what we’re hearing from survivors is, ‘I don’t want to go through that process, the process is very scary to me, and those rules are very intimidating,'” Carson told NPR. Biden also called the Trump regulations an effort to “shame and silence survivors.”
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Title IX is the 1972 law barring discrimination based on sex in education; the law and DeVos’ regulation applied to the nation’s colleges and universities, along with elementary and secondary schools.