Five years after the introduction of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act(EFASASH) by Senator Kristi Gillibrand and Senator Linsey Graham, President Biden signed it into law on March 3, 2022. Without this law, employers could prohibit their workers who have experienced sexual assault or harassment from seeking recourse in court. With EFASASH, sexual predators and their employers will no longer be able to evade public accountability. In a world where eighty-one percent of women have reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and or assault in their lifetime, forced arbitration of sexual assault and harassment claims have only worked as a silencing mechanism.
On August 24, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), released guidance clarifying that, effective immediately, it will stop the enforcement of 34 C.F.R. § 106.45(b)(6)(i). With this new guidance, a decision-maker at a post-secondary school may now consider outside information submitted by a survivor-complainant during the Title IX grievance process, even if the survivor-complainant does not partake in cross-examination.
In the midst of countless sexual misconduct allegations against some of Hollywood’s most powerful people, on November 9, 2017, Los Angeles District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, issued a statement outlining a plan of action. A special task force of veteran sex crimes prosecutors has been assembled to ensure a “uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution.” The Beverly Hills and Los Angeles Police Departments are conducting investigations of the accused as a rapidly increasing volume of sexual misconduct allegations are reported. Law enforcement and the special task force prosecutors are faced with legal and factual difficulties before any sexual misconduct allegations are sufficient for criminal prosecution. The legal elements of the alleged crime, the specific facts of each allegation, the existence of physical evidence, and the remedies available to the victims, are among the many convoluted factors that will dictate the ongoing investigations and prosecution of the allegations that are flooding Hollywood.
In a world where sexual assault occurrences on college campuses are becoming more readily recognized and reported, one of the many arising issues is how to appropriately respond to the allegations. Facing college disciplinary boards is one of the principal battlegrounds. With cases of sexual assault often lacking enough evidence for police action, many have demanded that colleges take responsibility for their students’ safety. However, in a situation where it is already “he said, she said,” what is the appropriate evidentiary standard for reprimand?