You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Georgia campus rape bill appears dead for the year, sponsor says


Weary after hours of often emotional discussion, a Senate committee voted Thursday to kill for this year what had come to be known as the “campus rape bill.”

“This is truly a complicated matter,” said state Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I think the proper thing to do at this point … I’d like to table this bill.”

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, agreed. “I sense some unreadiness in the room,” he said. “I have the same unreadiness.”

With only three legislative days left in the 2017 session, the committee voted unanimously to hold on to House Bill 51, bringing tears of happiness to the eyes of sexual assault victims and their advocates who had been aggressively fighting the bill since state Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, introduced it in January.

Before the vote, the Senate committee spent more than an hour Thursday discussing a revised bill that was crafted to protect the due process rights of college students whom school administrators are investigating in response to sexual assault allegations.

Ehrhart said after the vote that he had asked members of the committee to hold the bill because of issues raised by public and private colleges.

“This is too serious an issue” to push it, Ehrhart said. “It’s not dead by any stretch of the imagination. The issue hasn’t gone away.”

Advocates who had fought the bill spilled out of the meeting to share hugs and tears.

“This was needed,” said law student Grace Starling, one of the more vocal opponents. “The Senate has shown a willingness to treat rape as a nonpartisan issue.”

Ehrhart said he filed the bill because efforts by Georgia colleges and universities to adhere to federal law — Title IX — have destroyed college careers and prospects for professional lives of young men falsely accused of sexual assault.

“Our system is littered with destroyed lives of Georgia citizens,” Ehrhart told the committee. “I can point to about 30 cases of young men falsely accused and their lives turned upside down.”

He proposed the bill even though just last summer the Board of Regents had adopted statewide guidelines for investigating allegations of sexual assault on college campuses.

The draft of the revised campus rape bill  that the Senate committee was considering Thursday contains the often-criticized requirement that schools tell police when there has been a sexual assault, but that duty is now assigned to a “designated administrator” charged with determining whether an allegation is “credible” and possibly criminal. Law enforcement officials who have spoken about the bill have complained there can be little, if any, criminal investigation of a sexual assault report if the victim is not identified.

The changes that were discussed included:

  • Specifying that any college official investigating sexual misconduct be trained. Their efforts to gather information cannot interfere with a criminal probe or damage evidence police may need.
  • Defining sexual assault and what interim measures can be taken to separate a victim and attacker while a case is pending.
  • Mandating that someone other than the official who investigated sexual misconduct allegations decide whether college conduct codes were violated and what the punishment would be. The hearing officer must be a retired judge or a “fair and impartial trained administrator” — not someone affiliated with an advocacy group .



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Woman’s body found in creek near DeKalb high school 
Woman’s body found in creek near DeKalb high school 

A woman’s body was found in a creek near Redan High School in Stone Mountain, DeKalb County police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell confirmed.  The woman was found face-down in the Fieldgreen Overlook, Channel 2 Action News reported.  Campbell said the death is being treated as suspicious. No other details were released.  — Please...
Driver crashed stolen SUV, ditched car in a family’s garage, police say
Driver crashed stolen SUV, ditched car in a family’s garage, police say

Police say a Cumming man, after hitting two cars and speeding away from authorities, decided to hide the stolen car and himself in a family’s garage in a north Fulton County neighborhood.  Police dashcam footage obtained by Channel 2 Action News shows Patrick Phelan allegedly speeding away from police just before he hid the SUV on Tuesday...
New details revealed on Sandy Springs development
New details revealed on Sandy Springs development

More details about the $222 million mixed-use development in the center of Sandy Springs have been released. According to developers of City Springs, the residential component of the project will be name Aston City Springs. Aston will be comprised of 295 luxury apartments and townhomes, with pre-leasing information now available on its website www...
Atlanta Botanical Garden to shower teachers with free admission love 
Atlanta Botanical Garden to shower teachers with free admission love 

If you’re a teacher who hates the look and smell of summer flowers, there’s no need to read any further.  For everyone else, you should know that educators will receive free admission to the Atlanta Botanical Garden one day this summer. To qualify for free admission on July 8 what the attraction has dubbed “Educator Day...
Emory University’s annexation request: No fist-pumps allowed

The 2013 decision by the Atlanta Braves to take their business elsewhere was an economy-changing event that sparked open celebration on the Cobb County side of the Chattahoochee River. At the risk of using an out-of-season metaphor, one might even say they spiked the football. By contrast, the announcement of Emory University’s petition to become...
More Stories