Heller in coalition reviving campus assault bill

WASHINGTON — A new effort to improve how campus sex assaults are investigated and judged was launched Thursday by a dozen senators including Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada.

The bill would require colleges to establish support services, including designating confidential advisers, for rape survivors. It also seeks to ensure minimum training standards for campus personnel, and a uniform system for how schools handle assault complaints to assure due process for the accused as well as the victim.

It would toughen penalties for schools that don’t comply, calling for fines as high as $150,000 per violation, up from the current $35,000.

Heller, a Republican, was introduced at a kickoff as lead cosponsor of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, an update of legislation unveiled last year.

“Every father cares about this issue, especially if you have daughters and you’re sending them to school,” said Heller, who has a grown daughter and one in college. He said he wanted to ensure his infant granddaughter “will never have to deal with” the matter.

Heller convened a round table of administrators and womens’ groups last June at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as he gathered information for the bill.

“We want to make sure we can make these campuses a safer place,” he said Thursday.

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