Her remarks were immediately condemned by advocacy groups.
“Every allegation of sexual violence should be taken seriously, and it’s important to investigate them,” Jodi Omear, vice president of communications at Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, said in a statement to the Daily News.
“Survivors deserve to have their voices heard.”
Alyssa Peterson, policy and advocacy coordinator for Know Your IX, said Jackson should do her job of enforcing the law instead of implying that survivors are lying.
“It’s nothing short of disturbing to hear that Candice Jackson — the person who is charged with enforcing Title IX and protecting survivors’ access to education — buys into the kind of rape myths that survivors and allies have been fighting for decades, Peterson told The News.
“Survivors do not make the decision to go through a Title IX process lightly; in fact, the vast majority of us do not report to our schools,” she added.
Jackson’s remarks come as DeVos is scheduled to meet with victims and accused students, school officials and advocates on Thursday.
The sessions were organized by Jackson, who heads the department responsible for enforcing the Title IX law, regulation that prohibits sexual harassment in any school receiving federal funds.
What’s at stake is a 2011 letter by the Obama administration, which mandates school officials must respond to sexual assault reports, and use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to determine whether an incident occurred on campus. Most colleges have adopted the “clear and convincing” standard in the meantime.
Betsy DeVos is scheduled to meet with victims and accused students, school officials and advocates on Thursday.
Fatima Goss Graves, CEO and president of the National Women’s Law Center, called Jackson’s remarks “deeply concerning.”
“It perpetuates myths about sexual assault, and about the people who come forward and make reports,” she told The News. “It perpetuates myths that they are either lying or have regret.”
If the administration proceeds with the current framework under Title IX, “They will be okay,” Goss Graves added.
Jackson, a sexual assault victim herself, told the Times that college investigations are not “fairly balanced between the accusing victim and the accused student.”
She argued that students who have been accused in sexual assault cases are labeled as “rapists when the facts just don’t back that up.”
Jackson issued a statement Wednesday apologizing for her words in the Times’ interview.
“As a survivor of rape myself, I would never seek to diminish anyone’s experience. My words in the New York Times poorly characterized the conversations I’ve had with countless groups of advocates,” she said.
“What I said was flippant, and I’m sorry. All sexual assault must be taken seriously — which has always been my position and will always be the position of this Department.”