ATLANTA -- Georgia Rep. Earl Ehrhart introduced a bill to the legislature Wednesday that would change the way Georgia colleges and universities investigate sexual assaults on campus.
Ehrhart has started advocating against the hearings when he was contacted by the mother of a young man falsely accused. He believes both the victims and accused are denied due rights.
“It (sexual assault investigation) doesn’t belong on campus,” said Ehrhart. “They’re not trained, they don’t have the capacity, they don’t have the money. It belongs with the civil authorities.”
But victim’s advocates say scraping Title IX is not the way to go.
“The idea of getting rid of panels? We might as well go back to not even addressing sexual assault on campuses,“ said Jennifer Bivins with the Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault.
Bivins believes the Title IX system can be changed to improve the process and still give victims a voice. It’s a sentiment echoes by other victim’s rights advocates.
Atlanta Women for Equality strongly objects to House Bill 51. They issued a statement to 11Alive News today saying HB 51 is unconstitutional:
Atlanta Women for Equality Statement on HB51:
“In school disciplinary proceedings, however, both parties are private individuals—the complainant being the victim-survivor and the respondent being the person who allegedly violated the school’s code of conduct—with equal interests at stake: access to educational programs, activities and benefits. Unlike the state in criminal cases, schools are impartial fact-finders.
Thus, while placing the burden of proof on the state is necessary to balance the scales of justice in the criminal system, it is crucial that similarly situated complainants and respondents be treated impartially with equal procedural protections and opportunities to present evidence.
Sadly, if passed, the bill would deter victim-survivors from telling the truth about sexual violence, prevent schools from fulfilling their legal obligations to provide safe, non-sexually-hostile educational environments, and, in effect, force Georgia institutions to forfeit federal funding.”
11Alive News will continue to follow HB51 during the Georgia General Assembly’s 2017 session.