DeVos’ latest meeting sparks major controversy

In an effort to encourage an open dialogue about the adjudication of on-campus sexual assault cases, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will hear personal accounts on Thursday from two former students and attorneys representing men who claim that they were falsely accused of rape.

Some of those attending the meeting with DeVos are associated with Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), a nonprofit group that is described by the Southern Policy Law Center (SPLC) as promoting misogyny.

One of the former students who will recount his story to DeVos is Joseph Roberts, a retired Navy serviceman who previously lobbied Congress regarding what SAVE describes as the “military’s sexual assault witch hunt.”

The other student is Jonathon Andrews, a representative from SAVE who claims he was the victim of multiple false accusations that were designed to punish him after he alleged that he was sexually assaulted by a member of his fraternity.

Chris Perry, SAVE’s deputy executive director and an attorney who will also attend the meeting, said he could not recall whether the meeting was initiated by SAVE or the Department of Education. Perry noted that SAVE had been “sending them different materials since the [current] administration has taken over.”

According to Perry, SAVE’s goal was to open a dialogue with Secretary DeVos regarding the adjudication of on-campus sexual assault cases.

Perry stated that rape remains a “serious crime,” one that should be “taken seriously,” yet both victims and the accused should have their cases handled in a “respectful manner.” He contended that a “more fundamentally fair system” should be created.

The Daily Beast cited a statement on SAVE’s website which suggests that “detailed, often intrusive questions about the accuser’s prior sexual history” should be permitted in the adjudication of sexual assault cases, counter to Federal evidentiary rules.

Perry claimed that he was unaware the statement existed on the website.

“I didn’t write it,” he said, then declared that prior sexual history has no bearing unless it specifically pertains to both the accused and the victim—and even then might not be relevant.

The SPLC describes SAVE’s efforts as “lobbying to roll back services for victims of domestic abuse and penalties for their tormentors, while working to return the focus to the ‘true victims of abuse’ — the falsely accused.”

SAVE is one of several of groups slated to meet with DeVos on Thursday. Others include the National Coalition for Men (NCFM), a “men’s rights” group and Families Advocating for Campus Equality (FACE).

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