In a disgusting display of arrogance and misogyny, Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) and his wife have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Dept. of Education over the treatment of those accused of sexual assault on college campuses.
Yes, you know, campus sexual assault, which is under-reported by as much as 80%. Experienced by 1 in 5 college women, and 1 in 16 college men. So egregiously poor has been the university response, that students have begun going to extreme measures in attempts to seek a modicum of justice.
Ehrhart has been a bully about this issue all session long. Georgia Tech was denied $47 million for a library, with threats of greater losses of funds if they didn’t comply with Ehrhart’s demands that those accused of sexual assault be treated better.
Early on, he expressed concern both about those accused of committing sexual assault or committing racist acts, however this lawsuit centers on due process only for those accused of sexual assault.
“As parents, we are deeply concerned that our son, like any other male student, could be wrongly accused of sexual misconduct under these directives imposed by the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter. I have heard from many parents of accused male students and understand how unjust, devastating and life-changing the consequences can be.” said Ehrhart.
Unlike how unjust, devastating and life-changing it can be to experience sexual assault or rape?
The ‘Dear Colleague’ letter the lawsuit references is a 2011 letter from the U.S. Dept. of Education Office for Civil Rights to universities about how they handle campus sexual assault.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 dictate that federally funded schools cannot discriminate on the basis of sex, which includes protections against sexual harassment and sexual violence. Ehrhart contends that this letter improperly creates new rules around Title IX, and that students accused of sexual assault are denied due process.
Again: 80% under-reporting of campus sexual assault, according to the Dept. of Justice. People of color, LGBTQ folks, and those with disabilities are even more likely to experience sexual assault.
I’m really not certain how Ehrhart can interpret the process of experiencing and then maybe taking the steps to report sexual assault as being unjust to the accused.
The lawsuit questions why accused perpetrators are not allowed to cross examine survivors, noting:
“[P]reventing accused students from challenging their accusers, even in cases in which the only witness is the complainant, out of concern that cross-examination ‘may be traumatic or intimidating’ to the ‘victim,’ all of which violate an accused student’s fundamental rights to due process.”
Who has the audacity to write this lawsuit, to frame the trauma of having a perpetrator interrogate a survivor’s assault or rape experience as a mere farce?
Studies suggest that 2-10% of reported sexual assault claims end up being labeled false. However, Safer Campus, an advocacy group notes that, “Law enforcement classifies a report as false when they don’t believe the survivor or when the survivor recants. However, a survivor may recant or give an inconsistent, confusing account to authorities for many legitimate reasons.”
The lawsuit contends that the “Dear Colleague” letter “has resulted in the imposition of unnecessary costs and expenses that flow directly to both Federal and Georgia Taxpayers, including Plaintiffs.”
Ehrhart should feel ashamed for perpetuating a culture that doubts survivors and that makes the process of coming forward more traumatic. Ehrhart should feel ashamed for trying to claim victimhood, in the face of a national crisis that leaves so many survivors silenced.