Twenty prominent attorneys released a joint letter voicing serious due process rights concerns to Senator Claire McCaskill and co-sponsors of the deeply flawed Campus Accountability and Safety Act legislation. The letter was delivered to the offices of the 8 original Senate sponsors and their chiefs of staff, and was also sent to the remaining Senators, their chiefs of staff, and appropriate personnel at the White House and DOE. The letter was also released to media outlets including campus publications from the 77 schools under investigation by OCR, and additional school publications where a relevant case has been filed but the school is not on the DOE's hit list.
In the letter the attorneys state that they "are concerned that the complexity of the problem and the momentum to find a solution to the manner in which colleges handle these matters will overwhelm any effort to ensure fair treatment to and protect the rights of the accused – particularly with respect to due process, impartiality, and the collection of evidence."
The letter goes on to state:
Senator McCaskill’s hearings and report, “Sexual Violence on Campus,” followed by the proposed “Campus Accountability and Safety Act,” while appropriately focused on institutional reporting of sexual assaults fail to adequately address the rights of the accused with respect to the adjudication of sexual assault allegations. We observed that the subhead to Senator McCaskill’s report reads, “How too many institutions of higher education are failing to protect students.” We agree that the college adjudication process is indeed failing to “protect students.” However, the report and proposed legislation are not focused on protecting all students, but only those students who allege that they are “victims” of sexual assault. The proposed legislation refers to “victim” or “victims” 34 times, and to the “accused” just once. Tellingly, the proposed legislation never once uses the term “alleged” victim, or victim of “alleged” sexual assault, or “accuser.” By presuming that all accusers are in fact “victims” prior to any investigation or adjudication, the proposed legislation does a grave disservice to those accused of serious sexual offenses by
ignoring a concept at the core of due process, innocent until proven guilty.
We wholeheartedly agree and call upon Congress to vote no to harmful legislation like the CASA bill.
CLICK HERE to see the contents of the letter.