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Betsy DeVos proposes major overhaul to campus sexual misconduct rules

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos testifies at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 2017.

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Last Updated Nov 16, 2018 7:00 PM EST

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is proposing a major overhaul to the way colleges handle complaints of sexual misconduct. The Education Department released a plan Friday that would require schools to investigate sexual assault and harassment only if the alleged misconduct was reported to certain campus officials and only if it occurred on campus or other areas overseen by the school.

The plan would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and allow students accused of misconduct to cross-examine accusers in campus hearings.

"Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined," DeVos said in a statement.     

DeVos' proposal would replace Obama-era guidelines she scrapped last year, saying they were unfair to students accused of sexual misconduct. Critics said the Obama-era guidelines, however well intentioned, had created a new class of victims, CBS News' Jan Crawford reports.

Such as Corey Mock, who was expelled from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga after the school found him responsible for sexual misconduct. Mock's father Conrad said his son was wrongly accused.

"This never leaves you," Conrad Mock said. "It follows you forever"

Mock fought back and won. A judge ruled there was not enough evidence the sex was nonconsensual.

"We won our case, and my son still has issues," Conrad Mock said. "This will follow him for the rest of his life. It's a horrible thing."

The new rules restore some rights for the accused -- allowing cross examination of witnesses and no longer requiring a lower standard of proof for sexual assault cases.

Opponents say they will make students less safe. Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women's Law Center told CBS News one in five students say they have experienced sexual misconduct while in college.

"I am deeply worried that our students will not continue to come forward, that they will not continue to share with their schools the violence that they are enduring," Graves said.

While DeVos has condemned acts of sexual misconduct as "reprehensible, disgusting and unacceptable, they are acts of cowardice and personal weakness," DeVos has criticized the investigative process of Title IX investigations and cases.

"One sexual assault is one too many, and one falsely accused individual is one too many," DeVos told "60 Minutes" earlier this year.