U.S. Department of Education expected to revamp sexual assault investigation rules

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WASHINGTON — More rights could soon be afforded to college students accused of sexual assault. The proposed changes could be made public as soon as this week, according to multiple reports quoting sources in the Trump administration.

Higher education experts are calling this an overhaul that would change the way sex crimes are investigated on campuses across America. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is signaling it’s time for more due process. She’s expected to release a new proposal before Thanksgiving that will allow those on college campuses– accused of sexual assault– to cross-examine their accusers.

“I can kind of see how it’s unfair to the victim more than anyone else,” a student on the Auraria campus said.

Denver college students who spoke to FOX31 were, overall, uneasy with the proposal. Sexual assault victim advocates, like Karmen Carter with The Blue Bench, say these potential changes would be dangerous.

“I would tell you that a lot of people would make the choice not to report and to not get the help they need,” Carter said.

The new rules would give school administrators the ability to require a higher standard of proof when investigating allegations of sex assault or harassment. DeVos has argued that the current lack of due process is hurting accusers by forcing them to sit through lengthy appeal processes.

But Carter has faith in the current procedures on university campuses. She also says the amount of false reporting is low.

“The statistic is 2-to-8 percent are false accusations for sexual assault,” she said. “People share they’ve been sexually assaulted because they’ve experienced something horrific.”

Those who have been falsely accused have a much different perspective — saying false accusations have ruined their lives.

The proposal will need to go through a public comment period before it can be enforced.

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