Law & the Courts

‘It’s Wrong’: Biden Vows to Overturn DeVos’s Due Process Protections for Students Accused of Sexual Assault

Joe Biden speaks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

Former vice president Joe Biden promised on Wednesday that as president he would reverse new due process protections that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos put in place to protect university students accused of sexual assault, saying they “shame and silence survivors, and take away parents’ peace of mind.”

Biden, who has recently been accused of sexual assault in 1993 by a woman who worked for him, said the new rules give colleges and universities a “green light to ignore sexual violence and strip survivors of their rights.”

The Title IX rule, issued on Wednesday, is intended to enhance due process for accused individuals on college campuses as well as in elementary and high schools. One part of the reforms ensures the right of the accused to “submit, cross-examine and challenge evidence at a live hearing.” The rule protects alleged victims from having to physically face the person they say assaulted them or answer questions written personally by the accused, but it does allow the accused to ask questions through a surrogate as well as question other witnesses.

“Survivors deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and when they step forward they should be heard, not silenced.” Biden’s campaign said in a statement.

“It’s wrong,” Biden continued. “And, it will be put to a quick end in January 2021, because as president, I’ll be right where I always have been throughout my career — on the side of survivors, who deserve to have their voices heard, their claims taken seriously and investigated, and their rights upheld.”

Tara Reade claims that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993 when she worked for him as a Senate staffer. She alleges that she was told by a top staffer to bring Biden a duffel bag in a Senate building, and when she met with him he pinned her against a wall and penetrated her with his fingers while forcibly kissing her.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has also condemned the Education Department due process rules, said last month that she is “satisfied” with how Biden has responded to the allegation.

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