A Georgia politician is looking to put campus sexual assault investigations into the hands of law enforcement, clashing with existing rules laid out by the US Department of Education.
Under legislation introduced by Earl Ehrhart, a Republican state representative in Georgia, colleges would not be able to punish a student accused of rape until they were found guilty or entered a guilty plea in criminal court. Employees at colleges and universities in the state would also have to turn over information and “all evidence” related to sexual assault claims against students to law enforcement.
The bill would allow schools to suspend accused students “while felony criminal charges are pending” if the alleged perpetrator “poses an immediate threat to the life, health, or safety of the student body,” but colleges would still need to hold a due process hearing in order to do so.
Preventing colleges from investigating sexual assault incidents until the conclusion of a criminal case, which typically takes anywhere from six months to three years, sometimes even longer, would directly conflict with what the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights says schools must do under the gender equity law Title IX.
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