JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — Two bills — one in the House, one in the Senate — are proposing changes for Title IX rules for those accused of sex crimes on campuses around the state.
Title IX rules are in place to offer resources for a number of issues including sexual assault. Senate Bill 259 and House Bill 573 are essentially the same bill. One lawmaker who sponsors it thinks this would be providing more of a fair shake to those who are accused of sex crimes.
Senator Gary Romine is sponsoring Senate Bill 259, and he feels that as the rules are now, defendants in sex crimes on campuses are not given a fair shake.
“The whole title IX issue is about protecting the integrity of both parties, and I think that needs to be protected, and this is a very important program, but there are going to be times when there needs to be an appeal process when the accused has been given a suspension or removed from the campus. They need to have an opportunity for a quick appeal, and this bill is going to facilitate that,” says Romine.
He says the bill is meant to bring balance between the accuser and the accused.
Missouri State’s Title IX Coordinator Jill Patterson says the concept of balance and fairness is not a new concept for them.
“One of the most critically important parts of Title IX is that we be fair and supportive to both parties. That’s not a new conversation. That has been a part of Title IX all along, and is currently a part of the guidance from the federal government,” says Patterson.
While campuses receive guidance from the government, Title IX departments are not a governement law entity. Rather, they operate within the campus, and their investigations can result in the accused student being kicked off campus.
Criminal Defense Attorney Dee Wampler believes these bills would level the playing field for both parties.
“These bills would allow cross-examination, and allow different items of physical evidence in, and it would be a lot more fair if you will, in allowing the accused person due process of law,” says Wampler.
Patterson says Title IX is not there take sides.
“We’re here for both parties. Not just for people who feel victimized, but people who are accused as well,” says Patterson.
These bills would allow accused students to have an appeal hearing in front of the state’s administrative hearing commission.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos has proposed legislation that would make it tougher to convict someone of a sex crime.
Those proposals are at the federal level, but Sen. Romine says Missouri should get out in front and establish their rules first.