ATG NEWS RELEASE: Attorney General Doug Chin calls on Secretary DeVos to maintain protections for survivors of campus sexual assault

Posted on Jul 19, 2017 in Latest News

HONOLULU — Attorney General Doug Chin today joined with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and 17 other state Attorneys General in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expressing concern over reports the Department of Education is preparing to roll back important protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses and urging her to keep these protections in place. The Attorneys General also called on Secretary DeVos to work collaboratively with them to take action to end the scourge of sexual violence.

Incidents of sexual assault on college campuses are widespread. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, on average, 20.5 percent of college women had experienced sexual assault since entering college while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five women experienced sexual assault in their lifetimes. Moreover, the vast majority of these incidents go unreported. According to a study from the American Association of Universities, reporting rates for some types of assaults were as low as five percent, in part due to survivors’ concerns about coming forward.

Attorney General Chin said, “I join my colleagues in calling on Secretary DeVos to protect survivors of campus sexual assault, period. As a career prosecutor, I do not believe this should be a difficult decision for the Secretary to make. Listen to the students, respect them, and protect them.”

The Department of Education’s current guidance was first issued in 2011 and later clarified in 2014. The guidance instructs colleges on how they must address sexual assault incidents under Title IX. These steps include appointing a Title IX coordinator, requiring mandatory reporting by responsible school officials, and implementing procedures for handling investigations and hearings.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Title IX tracker, as of July 9, 2017 there have been 408 investigations of colleges for their handling of reports of sexual violence. 64 of those have been resolved and 344 remain open.

Of particular concern to the Attorneys General were the comments from Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who claimed that 90 percent of campus sexual assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’”

Attorney General Chin added in response to the Assistant Secretary’s comments, “I’ve been a prosecutor for more than 15 years. This kind of talk is wrong. It’s degrading. It’s insulting to victims. And it’s dangerous.”

The letter reaffirmed the Attorneys Generals’ commitment to working collaboratively with Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to address the problem of sexual assault, including suggesting the Secretary engage with a bipartisan group of Attorneys General and other stakeholders to discuss collaboration.

In addition to Attorney General Chin, Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro, and New Mexico Attorney General Balderas, Attorneys General from the following 17 states signed on to the letter to Secretary DeVos are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

A copy of the letter is attached.

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For more information, contact:

Joshua A. Wisch

Special Assistant to the Attorney General

Phone: (808) 586-1284

Email: Joshua.A.Wisch@hawaii.gov

Web: http://ag.hawaii.gov

Twitter: @ATGHIgov