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The American Independent

Betsy DeVos refuses to meet with sexual assault survivors

The secretary of education won’t meet with women who were sexually assaulted by Olympic doctor Larry Nassar.

By Emily Singer - May 10, 2019
Betsy DeVos

Many sexual assault and rape survivors are not happy with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for the sweeping changes she’s proposing to how colleges and universities must handle accusations of sexual assault and rape on their campuses.

Some of those survivors — including women who survived sexual abuse from former Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar — want to meet with DeVos directly to express their concerns and provide feedback that DeVos could use to improve her proposal before it’s made final.

But instead of listening to them, DeVos is hiding out.

Survivors and advocates have panned the changes DeVos wants to make to the landmark Title IX law that bans sex discrimination in education. Many of those changes, they say, are based on the faulty premise that men are often wrongly accused of sexual assault and rape when that’s simply not the case.

One Democratic lawmaker, freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), met with DeVos to discuss the changes. Since Slotkin’s district includes the area around MSU, she proposed having DeVos meet with women who survived Nassar’s sexual abuse during his time at the university and hear their thoughts on her Title IX policy.

Their thoughts would be especially relevant, since Title IX was a big part of why Nassar was ultimately sent to prison for up to 175 years for his serial child molestation.

But DeVos rebuffed Slotkin’s proposal to hear input from the survivors.

“I asked Secretary DeVos why she wouldn’t meet with survivors of Nassar’s abuse — especially since she’s proposing significant changes to Title IX,” Slotkin told the Detroit Free Press. “The secretary provided a long, legalistic response prepared by her attorneys as to why she couldn’t. The truth is that if she can meet with me to talk about sexual assault on college campuses, she should be able to meet with Nassar survivors. As a leader and a Michigander, she should want to hear from them.”

DeVos’ response included telling Slotkin in a letter that it would be “inappropriate to speak to survivors as part of a separate, collateral process.”

DeVos, for her part, has not met with any sexual assault survivors since 2017, according to the Detroit Free Press.

She has, however, met with so-called “men’s rights activists” — a group of misogynists who defend rapists, attack rape victims, and believe that domestic violence is often made up.

It’s no wonder sexual assault and rape survivors don’t believe the Trump administration has their back.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. 

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