July 8, 2016
Dear Ms. Mohr:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concern about the Stanford sexual assault case. I care deeply about this issue and firmly believe that our justice system must be better than this. People need to understand that rape is one of the most violent crimes that a person can commit; not, as Mr. Turner’s father said, “20 minutes of action.” You can view my speech on the House floor regarding the Brock Turner case at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK4KaUrpNbo. I also hosted a Special Order Hour to honor the brave survivor, in which 18 other members and I read the survivor’s statement on the House floor. You can view that reading at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXYeJ27ZGPc.
Every student deserves a safe educational environment free from harassment and sexual violence. Statistics show that one in five women will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault during their time in college. More than 50% of these assaults occur in the ‘red zone’, the period of time between the start of the fall term and the week of Thanksgiving. Universities are further exacerbating the problem by creating a culture of fear of retaliation for survivors who wish to report their assault. The problem is widespread— nearly 200 colleges and universities are currently under federal investigation for violations under Title IX for mishandling sexual assault cases.
This issue is one of my top legislative priorities. I introduced H.R. 2680, the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) on Campus Sexual Violence Act. This bill requires the Department of Education to issue penalties for noncompliance with Title IX, increases penalties for violation the Clery Act, institutes biennial climate surveys, and increases transparency by providing more public data on the universities under investigation. It also creates an interagency Campus Sexual Violence Task Force and requires schools to provide clear statements of their sexual violence policies to all student groups, teams, and organizations. Finally, the bill creates a private right of action for students harmed by universities that fail to meet campus safety requirements. The HALT Act will help foster a safer campus culture where all students have the opportunity to thrive without fear of sexual assault or administration retaliation.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me about this issue. Constituent letters are an important part of my decision making process. If you would like more information on my work in the 14thcongressional district, you can visit my website, like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter. Through my website, you can send me opinions, request tours in DC, and get help on issues you might have with federal agencies. Please contact me in the future if I may be of assistance to you.
All the best,
Member of Congress