News & Politics

Leaked DOJ Memo Recommends Making Rape Victims' Sexual History Fair Play in Campus Hearings

Will sex-shaming victims be the law of the land?

Photo Credit: mark reinstein / Shutterstock

At an event at George Mason University, Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos officially announced the beginning of rollbacks in protections for student survivors of sexual assault under Title IX. The announcement isn’t a surprise since it’s in line with other regressions from Obama-era policies that have gotten the Trump administration treatment. 

While the specific changes to Title IX guidance have yet to be shared, we can get an idea of what to expect from a leaked memo courtesy of @ALT_USCIS on Twitter, which is run by self-proclaimed insiders at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

In a Feb. 15, 2017, memo from the Department of Justice to the deputy attorney general, the authors express concern about the consequences faced by students accused of sexual misconduct. They list a few recommended changes in policy to shift even more favor on the side of the accused—one of which is particularly alarming.

Every complainant’s sexual history, if relevant, may be introduced at the hearing. Currently, questions about the complainant’s sexual history with anyone other than the accused perpetrator should not be permitted.

This recommendation is in direct contraction to rape shield laws, which bar the defendant from bringing up the victim’s sexual past in sex crime cases. In the 1970s some states created their own rape shield laws; 1994’s Violence Against Women Act created a federal version. Now the highest law enforcement agency in the land is pointedly recommending a policy that’d only serve to shame survivors who dare to report—and discourage others from speaking up in the process. 

Read the full document via Twitter below.

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