Unblinding Lady Justice: SAVE Calls on Dept. of Education to Respond to Civil Rights Complaints

June 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, Jun 19, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) — Over a year after the Department of Education issued its controversial sex assault policy, the federal agency has yet to respond to concerns about civil rights violations. Stop Abusive and Violent Environments renews its call to the federal agency to safeguard students’ rights rather than seek to curtail them.

The policy was issued by the Dept. of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on April 4, 2011 without prior opportunity for public comment or debate. On August 24, 2011, SAVE sent a letter to the DED requesting that the policy be rescinded.

In addition, 12 other organizations have issued statements opposing the directive. These groups include the American Association for University Professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, Alliance Defense Fund, Feminists for Free Expression, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University, Accuracy in Media, Heartland Institute, American Council for Trustees and Alumni, National Association for Scholars, John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, and Defending Dissent Foundation.

In addition, over 50 editorials have criticized the mandate as removing fundamental civil rights from persons accused of sexual assault. Many worry that reducing due process protections will invite false accusations, robbing real victims of needed protections and credibility.

In a recent Brown University case, Marcella Dresdale accused a classmate of rape. The accused man, William McCormick, was forced to leave the university. McCormick later sued the accuser’s father, Richard Dresdale, a wealthy Brown donor, alleging the benefactor had interfered with the university’s investigative procedures, violating his due process rights. The Dresdales agreed to an out-of-court settlement, reportedly after McCormick had been offered $1 million.

"Over the past year, many leading groups have called on the DED to rescind its mandate that universities rely on the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard for sexual assault allegations," notes SAVE spokesman Philip Cook. "But the federal Office of Civil Rights has yet to respond. Stonewalling these requests, and allowing false accusations of rape to continue, constitutes a parody of justice."