More men named in college sex assault cases are taking their accusers to court
A bill to provide more legal protection to Missouri college students accused of campus sexual assault made it to the Senate floor Tuesday night, but went no further after a filibuster by Democrats that lasted into the early morning hours.
Supporters of Senate Bill 259, sponsored by Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington say the measure is needed to bolster students’ constitutionally-guaranteed rights to due process on campus when accused of serious crimes like sexual assault.
Critics say it is a remedy for a largely non-existent problem—false accusations— and could discourage victims from reporting their assaults.
The bill has been endorsed by the St. Louis County NAACP, which said African-American men are disproportionately hurt by Title IX proceedings.
Late Tuesday evening, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, took the floor and announced her intent to kill the bill.
“This is about protecting wealthy white boys who think they can do and get away with anything,” she said. “It’s not about helping young black men.”
Lobbyist Richard McIntosh formed a dark money group called Kingdom Principles, which has hired more than two-dozen other lobbyists to push the legislation in the Capitol. McIntosh helped draft the House version of the bill.
Groups such as Kingdom Principles are called “dark money” because they don’t have to disclose their donors. But a spokesman for the group confirmed earlier this year that one source of money is St. Louis billionaire David Steward, one of the richest black men in America. It’s unclear how much he’s giving to the cause.
Speaking of the lobbyists hired by Kingdom Principles, Nasheed said she can’t fault them for “getting your money.”
She added: “Guess what: I’m going to give you another job next year because this one is dying.”
Democrats were quick to claim victory, one even doing so before the bill was actually laid over around 2 a.m.
“Tonight we stood and fought for victims of sexual assault on campuses. And won,” Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis County, wrote on Twitter at 11:40 p.m.
But scuffling over the bill continued Wednesday when Sen. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles, attempted to add an amendment to the proposed state budget to make higher education funding contingent on compliance with state or federal law that guarantees due process.
Several Democrats spoke up to decry what they viewed as an attempt to legislate through the budget process, which is prohibited.
“It’s a continuation of the conversation we had last night,” said Sen. John Rizzo, D-Kansas City. “I believe we had that conversation and I don’t believe that there’s been consensus on whether we should move forward on that or not as a body.”
Eigel’s amendment was defeated. But bill remains on the informal calendar, which means it could be called up for debate at any any time.
The House version was voted out of committee but has not been placed on the voting schedule.