Attorney General Rosenblum Challenges Trump Administration’s New Rules for Sexual Assault Victims

June 4, 2020
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Attorney General Rosenblum and 16 other Attorneys General today filed a complaint against the Trump Administration’s new rules that weaken protections for sexual assault and harassment victims from kindergarten through college.

“College campuses and K-12 schools are struggling with how to better support victims of sexual assault, while at the same time feeling overburdened. We need guidance from the U.S. Department of Education that helps schools navigate these difficult situations, not additional bureaucracy that makes it harder to discipline sexual misconduct,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “If we don’t stand up for victims, who will? The DOE, by this rule, is sending a clear message that it does not care to fight for victims and survivors.”

The new rules from the Trump Administration will strip students of longstanding protections against sexual harassment in violation of Title IX’s mandate to prevent and remedy sex discrimination. The Rule will chill the reporting of sexual harassment, the complaint says, and make it harder for schools to reach fair outcomes as they investigate complaints. Among other flaws, the Department’s new regulations:

  • Narrow the protections for students and others by redefining “sexual harassment” to exclude a broad spectrum of discriminatory conduct, arbitrarily excluding incidents of sexual harassment based on where they occur, and limiting when schools can respond to serious sexual misconduct;
  • Require extensive and unnecessary new procedures that will reduce the number of reports and investigations and undermine the ability of schools to provide a fair process to all students; and
  • Demand schools make significant changes by mid-August in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it impossible for students, parents, faculty, staff, and community members to help shape important school policies.

In 2015, Attorney General Rosenblum championed Oregon HB 3476, a bill that created confidentiality protections for the victims and survivors of campus sexual assault that are among the strongest in the country.  In 2019, she  joined with Representative Karin Power (D – Milwaukie) to support HB 3415, a bill which locked in longstanding best practices in Oregon protecting a survivor centered, trauma informed process for investigating campus sexual harassment and misconduct.

“Secretary Betsy DeVos’s rollback of Title IX civil rights protections for students across America is unjust and unlawful.  Victims of sexual harassment and assault deserve better, and I support Attorney General Rosenblum’s efforts to block these widely condemned rules and protect Oregon students,” said Rep. Power.

In addition to Oregon, the lawsuit was joined by the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and was joined by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina,  Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.