Student's Sexual Harassment Suit Invokes Betsy DeVos

The lawsuit references the education secretary's new campus guidelines
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 27, 2017 4:40 PM CST
Student Invokes Betsy DeVos in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

A male student who was suspended from the University of Vermont this fall after being accused of groping a female student at an off-campus party has sued the school, saying the school's disciplinary system is biased against men, the AP reports. The lawsuit said the case is a perfect example of a failed system of campus sexual assault enforcement highlighted by US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In September, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era guidance on investigating college sexual assaults. DeVos said the policy had been unfairly skewed against those accused of assault. The University of Vermont said Monday it's confident it has acted appropriately.

DeVos' interim guidelines allow universities handling complaints to use a "clear and convincing evidence" standard, which is harder to meet than the standard in the Obama guidance. Women's rights groups say the harder standard will discourage reporting of sexual assaults. In the University of Vermont case, a female student reported that a male student groped her as they danced at a rugby party on April 28, 2017. The lawsuit says she identified the male student by a nickname. Based on information, belief, and an "incorrect assumption" the university found a picture of John Doe on Facebook, showed it to the female student, and asked if he was the alleged perpetrator, the lawsuit says.

(More Betsy DeVos stories.)

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