Discussion Of Whether Any Changes Should Be Done To Title IX

In this point of time rape/sexual assault survivors have little to no courage to seek help or report their aggressors due to fear of not enough evidence being provided, fear that nothing would be done or feel shameful in letting others around them know. Throughout federal funded schools or colleges, an inclusive rule, Title IX was placed by the Obama administration that “prevents gender discrimination in school clubs, programs, and activities”. Title IX also gives individuals that undergo sexual harassment on campuses to report a sexual discriminative event which lead to the investigation of cases to take preventive methods to interfere with the recurrence of traumatizing events, in order to keep a safe student body and environment.

Recently, the current United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has been proposing new changes to be done to the title in order to maintain on campus assaults’ trials fair. The implantation of stricter evidence required from a victim to incriminate a suppose accuser or the presentation of “preponderance of evidence” to juries, to cross examinations to be held in courtrooms are some of the proposals she is trying to imply to the title. DeVos also claims, fair trials should be conducted due to the lack of due process rights for the accused which may be violated and lead to bias in the jury towards the victim, which may be favored, that in some instances automatic convictions may be done.

The changes proposed by Betsy Devos shouldn’t be put into effect because, such proposals would result in more difficulties for women who speak up, which would decline the percentage of those who want to speak up and seek help due to the lack of the preponderance of evidence needed to prove their cases and cross examination between the two which can also create emotional conflicts. These difficult standards give beneficial and higher chances for an accuser to make an appeal in order to prove their innocence which goes against the victim in some cases.

The requirements of preponderance of evidence needed to prosecute the accused can be very complex for a victim to provide. In some cases, a woman is more likely to be drugged and unconscious when the assault occurs, and don’t recall until they regain their conscience the next day. A study conducted by The Washington Post, “14 percent of women and 4 percent of men reported that they had been sexually assaulted while incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or while asleep. This was the most common kind of assault experienced by both sexes (9 percent of women and 1 percent of men reported assault by physical force).” If the requirements of evidence are needed in a higher extent there would be problems for drug involved rapes to sometimes be pressured to testify against themselves due to lack of evidence.

Just like in the case of “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” (2008) Marie was a rape victim and during her interrogation process she was manipulated to “confess” she was lying which resulted of a gross misdemeanor of false accusations charged towards her due to the lack of evidence to find her aggressor. “He (the Detective) said he believed she had made the story up — a spur-of-the-moment thing, not something planned out. He asked if there was really a rapist running around the neighborhood that the police should be looking for. “No,” Marie told him, her voice soft, her eyes down. “Based on her answers and body language it was apparent that [Marie] was lying about the rape,” Rattigan later wrote. Without reading Marie her rights the detectives asked Marie to write out the true story, admitting she had lied, admitting, in effect, that she had committed a crime.” Police detectives interrogated Marie for “hours” and no evidence to find her aggressor which resulted in her “flipping switches” as described by the officers to give up her story and say what they wanted her to say, that it was all a dream.

During the cross-examination process, the gatherings must be permitted to submit series of composed questions to challenge each other's believability before the decision-maker makes an assurance. This gives both sides of the party permission to question each other harshly and cause intimidation. In the book “The Fordham Law Review” it is stated that “in order to test the prosecutor's case, defense counsel may be obligated to create a false impression.' In the series of questions asked by the investigators case, there could be advice given to create a false impression or misinterpretation of the answers provided to twist things around to use against them to benefit the other party.

In the same book an example is provided to show the overthrow of the conclusion that Mr. Avery raped Ms. Faulkner. During the situation, Ms. Faulkner was extremely drunk and high at a frat party and once she got home with her boyfriend, there was an argument amongst them. Ms. Faulkner believed her boyfriend was the one going back to talk with her, but Mr. Avery came in and held her down and raped her. The professor then set the series of questions and gave the students the answers which “provide rich material of the victim on her inability to see and accurately identify the defendant.” to make her statements go against her. The cross examination can lead to emotional trauma by putting the victim to shame, make their reputation look bad, and give them trauma due to their weaknesses being pointed out to be used against them.

When it comes to putting these rules in effect, it can be ensured in the grievance process, which are beneficial to the accusers (if guilty), rights of due process, which are lacked in many cases in order to try to make and appeal. If the victim is lying and not an actual victim of harassment, just like the previous paragraph using the cross-examination process intimidates them and gives them a better advantage to go through more extents to incriminate the suppose accused. In the book “In Our Defense” under the 5th amendment “The right to due process of law exists in both the criminal and civil justice systems... procedures ensuring a fair trial and appeals process are required by due process.” this gives everyone the right to a fair trial without no favors on each side. The 5th amendment can be crucial for rape cases and go against a victim and would let various aggressors free, if not enough evidence is provided which can ensure the lack of protection the Title IX needs to provide to the students.

If victims get put in these situations, there would be less and less, people who are more likely who would come out which may lead to more emotional distress amongst them, that can cause anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts; especially in our current generation where these things are normalized in society. In a research conducted by University College London “4 out of 5 victims who have been sexually assaulted are suffering from crippling mental health problems months after their attack”. 4 out of 5 teens, excluding the ones who don’t speak up, who undergo through sexual harassment with the proper counseling and current trial processes still get diagnosed with mental health problems. Placing harsher trial processes may lead to more mental issues and trauma in the victims.

Title IX is a very inclusive rule which grants protection from discrimination to sexual harassment of all people in school, college and universities’ campuses. Recently there have been changes proposed by Betsy DeVos to create harsher laws when it comes convicting form providing stricter evidence to prove the accusations, to the requirements of cross examinations. The rules provided by DeVos shouldn’t be enacted because it can result to less women coming out and seeking for help, due to the fear of not being heard or emotional distress. These rules are beneficial to the accused and give a fair due process allowing them to apply for an appeal in order to be set free. 

16 August 2021
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