Rep. Earl Ehrhart is notorious for his efforts to block legal justice for rape and sexual assault victims on college campuses. Last April, he filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Dept. of Education over the treatment of those accused of sexual assault on campuses. That’s right — he prioritized the rights of accused rapists over victims.
And he isn’t finished.
This week he filed a bill that would prevent schools from investigating campus sex abuse claims.
Under Ehrhart’s bill, the only way a university could respond to students who approach the school with a rape or sexual assault is by immediately involving the police. A school cannot investigate the case itself until law enforcement has done their own investigation and cannot take disciplinary action against a student unless a student is convicted or pleads no contest to the charges.
Rather than remaining conscious of and sensitive to the victim’s identity, education and safety, the bill would escalate their case to the court of law and make it public record.
Ehrhart’s bill would also directly conflict with federal laws, such as Title IX. Title IX mandates that colleges conduct their own judicial proceedings to address rape and sexual assault cases.
To justify this unconstitutional and unethical bill, Ehrhart again expressed his concern for those accused of sexual assault, placing their well-being over the actual experiences of sexual assault victims.
Despite Ehrhart’s concern, victims face constant inaction and injustice from law enforcement. The AJC found that nine of Georgia’s largest universities logged 152 allegations of rapes since 2010, but not a single one one resulted in criminal prosecution. Pitting students from age 18 and up against the complex, often expensive court system is essentially meant to silence them.
Even those cases that do make it to court don’t end in justice. Last year, a district attorney from Fulton County dropped two high-profile cases from Georgia Tech and Morehouse College — cases which had already dragged on for two years.
It’s clearer than ever that rape and sexual assault victims are already facing injustice — yet Ehrhart wants to make it harder and more painful for them to achieve the justice they deserve.
Ehrhart can try to paint this bill as a way to decrease false accusations, but we know it’s only going to protect even more rapists and sexual assailants on campuses across Georgia.