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Op-Ed: Due process matters in sexual assault cases, too

The July 15 editorial “Myths from the Education Department” properly focused on the need to eradicate sexual violence on campus. What was missing, however, was a proper acknowledgment of how often college officials have violated due process along the way, at the behest of the Education Department.

The Obama administration’s demand that colleges discipline alleged offenders independently of the criminal-justice system resulted in poorly executed investigations, and suspensions and expulsions that were overturned by courts. We shouldn’t have a system that incentivizes punishment over due process, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her deputies are right to evaluate the reflexive assumption of guilt that has motivated too many investigations into alleged sexual misconduct.

The editorial board called for acting assistant secretary for civil rights Candice Jackson to resign, but what about Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who said, “If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a ‘reasonable likelihood’ standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people”? Due process protects us all. We should use the criminal-justice system to secure justice for survivors, a fair trial for the accused and stringent punishments for those found guilty.

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