Ga. House Approves Controversial Sexual Assault Bill | WABE 90.1 FM

Ga. House Approves Controversial Sexual Assault Bill

Mar 2, 2017

Georgia lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that would change the way colleges handle crimes committed on campus, including sexual assault. Some opponents of the legislation said the language is unclear and confusing.

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Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, is the bill’s lead sponsor. He said the goal is to create a better process for reporting and investigating assaults.

"It's a balance between the rights of the victim and the rights of the accused,” he said. “It's a basic constitutional issue we've had in this country from the very beginning. It's called 'due process of law.'"

But critics say the bill is hard to understand. Lawmakers were confused about some of the reporting requirements, and whether colleges would be able to conduct their own investigations while a criminal case was going on.

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, said the bill is slanted in favor of those accused of assault.

"Although [the bill] started out as a sledgehammer against the process – delicate process – of these ways we treat sexual assault, it still is a hammer against victims' rights,” she said.

The House overwhelmingly passed the measure 115-55. It heads to the Senate next for consideration.