A top official in President Trump’s Department of Education claimed Wednesday that “both parties” are usually under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in campus sexual assault cases.
Candice Jackson, head of the civil rights division at the Education Department, told the New York Times that accused students’ rights are often ignored in Title IX cases across the country.
“The accusations — 90 percent of them — 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 [time] sleeping together was not quite right,’” Jackson told the New York Times.
Male students, Jackson says, are branded rapists “when the facts just don’t back that up.”
Jackson claimed that in many investigations, there’s “not even an accusation that these accused students overrode the will of a young woman.”
Jackson, herself is a survivor of sexual assault, told the Times that she sees “a red flag that something’s not quite right” with how colleges handle sexual assault accusations.
In once instance, Jackson described a mother who found her son in the midst of a suicide attempt after he was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student.
“Listening to her talk about walking in and finding him in the middle of trying to kill himself because his life and his future were gone, and he was forever branded a rapist — that’s haunting,” Jackson told the Times.
Reducing rates of campus sexual assault was a major plank of the Obama administration’s efforts at the Education Department, with top White House officials including former Vice President Joe Biden commenting on the issue. But that emphasis seems to be changing under the Trump administration.
Critics and sexual assault awareness advocates warn that the White House should be ready for a “fight” on the issue.
“We took for granted the fact that the White House and the Department of Education supported accepting and advancing these rights, and we can’t take that for granted anymore,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford Law professor who often comments on issues of sexual assault. “There is going to be a fight.”
In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Dauber reacted further to Jackson’s comments, calling for her immediate firing.
Dauber tagged Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in her post — two lawmakers who have focused on the issue of sexual assault on campuses and in the military.
Jackson’s comments about sexual assault come just two months after President Trump declared April to be “Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will meet privately on Thursday with assault victims, accused students and their families, higher education officials and advocates on both sides of the issue, the Times reported.