As Education Secretary Betsy DeVos moves forward with her plan to review the federal government’s policy regarding sexual assault and harassment on college campuses, the acting head of the Department’s Civil Rights division is now apologizing for making an unsubstantiated and unsourced claim that nine in ten of these assault allegations are baseless and can be tied back to nothing more than too much drinking and bad breakups.
“90% of [accusations] fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and 6 months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation”
Candice Jackson, Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, recently spoke to the New York Times about the Trump administration’s plan to review so-called Title IX civil rights disputes (referring to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972), involving sexual discrimination.
Jackson criticized the Obama administration’s push for more investigations and better data on college assaults, saying that the rights of the accused were given unequal treatment.
She told the Times that, in her opinion, “the accusations — 90 percent of them — fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.'”
“What I said was flippant, and I am sorry.”
The problem is, Jackson had no sourcing for this “90 percent” claim. A gut feeling may be fine when having an after-dinner argument with your cousin that you don’t really like anyway, but when you’re the head of the Civil Rights division for one of the largest federal agencies, throwing out off-the-cuff statistics is generally a bad idea; something that Jackson appears to now acknowledge.
In response to Consumerist’s query about the source of Jackson’s “90 percent” statistic, a representative for the Department provided the following statement on behalf of Jackson:
“As a survivor of rape myself, I would never seek to diminish anyone’s experience. My words in the New York Times poorly characterized the conversations I’ve had with countless groups of advocates. What I said was flippant, and I am sorry. All sexual harassment and sexual assault must be taken seriously—which has always been my position and will always be the position of this Department.”
Secy. DeVos is slated to discuss Title IX issues Thursday in a meeting with victims’ advocacy groups and individuals who were wrongly accused.