Those in the education field should be focused on protecting students. Students should feel safe attending school and college. If they are being physically or sexually assaulted by teachers or coaches, they should be able to speak up, file a report, and get justice swiftly served.
With new Title IX laws in place, though, athletes who are victims of sexual assault have a long road ahead if they decide to pursue criminal action. The new laws no longer require coaches and college employees to report sexual harassment and other types of misconduct. The accused are also given extra protections, making it even harder for a victim to fight their case and gain a victory:
“The U.S. Department of Education, led by education secretary Betsy DeVos, announced new Title IX federal regulations that change requirements on who must report sexual assault allegations and how institutions respond to those complaints.”
“The adjustments, outlined in a 2,033-page document and set to go into effect Aug. 14, no longer require coaches and other employees at colleges and universities to report allegations to the Title IX office. They also give schools a choice in what standard of proof they’d like to follow, bolster protections for the accused and require live hearings and cross examinations.”
The document, which boasts a whopping 2,033 pages, offers other protections for schools. They are now given a choice as to the standard of proof they want to follow in a case. Cases will also require cross examinations and live hearings. The Department of Education released these new rules on May 6, and they go into effect on August 14. Although the spin put on the changes by the Secretary of Education is she “…took historic action today to strengthen Title IX protections for survivors of sexual misconduct and to restore due process in campus proceedings to ensure all students can pursue an education free from sex discrimination.” Actually, the opposite effect is the truth. These new regulations actually make it more difficult for victims of sexual assault in the education environment.
The biggest change is that coaches, athletic directors, faculty, residential life staff and other college employees will no longer be mandatory reporters. This mean they will no longer be required to report cases of sexual misconduct or discrimination to the appropriate entity. This rule got many coaches into trouble in the past. One prominent example was the sexual abuse claims against gymnastics coach Larry Nassar. Because Michigan State did not report the abuse, it was fined $4.5 million.
What was the reason for the change? The rules were changed to allegedly respect the victims’ choice. This gives students the option of choosing whether they want to report the incident or just keep quiet. Because many students are embarrassed and scared to come forward after a sexual assault incident, they stay quiet. Nothing is done and the offender continues to offend, looking for new victims. The government is under the assumption that a student may be “receiving emotional support without desiring to ‘officially’ report.”
However, the rules will not change for the NCAA and SafeSport. Therefore, coaches at the college level may still be required to report sexual misconduct based on NCAA regulations. The same applies to the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which applies to athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics. The NCAA also recently adopted a policy that requires colleges to report acts of violence that resulted in any discipline or criminal conviction. This helps prevent athletes from transferring to another school after an incident that has occurred without the school’s knowledge.
Get legal help if you are the victim of sexual assault.
Unfortunately, it is not unusual to hear stories about sexual misconduct involving student, athletes, coaches and/or trainers. Sexual assault can happen anywhere. Coaches and trainers exert control over athletes and can use that to take advantage of them. Sometimes, the participants are underage, making the situation even worse.
You should find a lawyer experienced in handling sexual assault cases. Attorney Andrea Lewis, a former prosecutor, handles a wide variety of sexual assault and sexual misconduct cases and fights to get the victims the justice they deserve. Mrs. Lewis is very familiar with the laws and rules of different governing bodies, including Safesport’s regulations, and frequently helps victims navigate criminal and civil process.