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Image of the Virginia AG Seal

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

HERRING FIGHTS TRUMP AND DEVOS’S EFFORTS TO UNDERMINE PROTECTIONS AGAINST CAMPUS SEXUAL VIOLENCE

~ AG Herring submitted official comments outlining the ways that Secretary DeVos’s proposals will undo progress on preventing and properly responding to campus sexual violence ~ 

RICHMOND (January 31, 2019) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring hassubmitted official comments opposing a proposal from the Trump Administration and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos that would undermine Title IX and undo years of progress in preventing and responding to sexual violence, harassment, and discrimination on college campuses.  Attorney General Herring highlighted the ways that Secretary DeVos’s proposed changes would reduce reporting of incidents of sexual violence, reduce and narrow protections that ensure the safety of students and faculty, tilt the balance of power towards alleged perpetrators, compromise the confidentiality of survivors, and make students feel less safe on campus.
 
Previously, Attorney General Herring joined 19 state attorneys general insending a letter to Secretary DeVos asking her to maintain the Department of Education's commitment to protecting college and university students from sexual violence on campuses. In 2015, Attorney General Herring chaired Gov. Terry McAuliffe's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence, which developed 21 policy recommendations that helped make Virginia a national leader in the movement to end campus sexual violence.
 
“The Trump Administration’s proposed rule changes to Title IX would take us decades backwards in the way that we approach and handle campus sexual violence in this country,” said Attorney General Herring. “During my first term as Attorney General, I made it a top priority to make sure Virginia treated campus sexual violence with the seriousness it deserves, and I will continue to do so regardless of dangerous and ill-informed decisions made at the federal level. Our students and our universities deserve a Department of Education who will stand up for survivors and create safe and welcoming learning environment.”
 
Attorney General Herring’s letter was prompted by the Department of Education’s announcement that they were planning to overhaul the Title IX rules that govern campus sexual violence, which would result in a step back from work during the Obama Administration to help universities prevent and respond appropriately to reports of sexual violence. The proposed rule from the Trump Administration and Secretary DeVos would make it harder for a survivor of campus sexual assault to come forward because it narrows reporting requirements, establishes a more limited definition of sexual harassment, and removes the requirement that a college or university must investigate an off-campus incident. Additionally, the proposed rule changes also set more protections in place for individuals accused of sexual assault by creating a higher evidentiary standard and allowing for an inappropriate cross-examination of a survivor.
 
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.
 
Attorney General Herring has worked with Virginia's colleges and universities, victim advocates, students and law enforcement to transform the way the Commonwealth works to prevent and respond to sexual violence while chairing former Governor McAuliffe's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence, which spent more than six months developing policy recommendations in five areas:
 
  • Engaging Our Campuses and Communities in Comprehensive Prevention
  • Minimizing Barriers to Reporting
  • Cultivating a Coordinated and Trauma-Informed Response:
  • Sustaining and Improving Campus Policies and Ensuring Compliance
  • Institutionalizing the Work of the Task Force and Fostering Ongoing Collaborations
 
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