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Lower evidence standard dropped from Violence Against Women

Sen. Patrick Leahy will cut a provision in the Violence Against Women Act that would have required federally funded colleges to adopt the “preponderance of evidence” standard in sexual assault cases.

Currently, colleges can set their evidence standard for cases involving sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. Some colleges use the “preponderance of evidence” standard which means something more likely than not happened — others use the criminal standard, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education campaigned against the measure’s inclusion in the Violence Against Women Act, because of its effect on student due process rights.

“FIRE thanks Senator Leahy and all of the legislators and members of the public who brought their concerns to the Committee for working to remove this provision from the new draft of the Violence Against Women Act,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff in a statement. “As I said when we asked FIRE supporters to oppose this provision, reducing protections for students accused of serious misconduct will not increase justice.”

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