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  • HsinJuHSU/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Following months of controversy, the Education Department said on Thursday it would end Obama-era guidance on campus sexual assaults.In a "dear colleague" letter, released in 2011, the Obama administration instructed schools to use a "preponderance of evidence" standard, rather than the more stringent "clear and convincing evidence standard, to prove sexual assault.But the Trump administration argues using a lower standard of proof in sexual misconduct cases "suggests a discriminatory purpose."Quoting a recent court decision, the newly-released interim guidance said the Obama administration policy represents "a deliberate choice by the university to make cases of sexual misconduct easier to prove -- and thus more difficult to defend, both for guilty and innocent students alike."Under the new guidance, schools can choose which standard of proof they use, but it should be "consistent with the standard the school applies in other student misconduct cases," according to a document released on Thursday.Education Secretary Betsy DeVos first broadcast her intent to withdraw the "failed" Obama-era guidance in a press conference earlier this month, saying it was unfair to alleged perpetrators."One rape is too many ... And one person denied due process is too many," she said at George Mason Law School. "Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is no predetermined.""It's no wonder so many call these proceedings kangaroo courts," she said, referencing the lack of due process for both victims and the accused in on-campus sexual assault proceedings.Academic studies put the prevalence of false allegations between 2 and 10 percent.Thursday’s announcement comes just months after DeVos sparked a controversy by meeting with so-called "men's rights" groups like the National Coalition for Men and groups that speak out on behalf of the accused, like Families Advocating for Campus Equality.Volunteers for these groups say they just want to make sure all involved get a fair process."Victims for a long time weren't taken seriously, and President Obama tried to correct that -- but some of us think that he over-corrected, to the point where those who haven't committed any crimes, like myself, are at a risk of losing their futures, losing their lives, and being destroyed, essentially," Jonathan Andrews, a 23-year-old volunteer who says he was falsely accused of rape after he himself was sexually assaulted, told ABC News in July.But survivor's advocates, with whom the secretary also met, say the groups push harmful, blame-the-victim stereotypes."She's meeting with groups and individuals today who believe that sexual assault is some sort of feminist plot to hurt men," said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of National Center for Transgender Equality.In response to today's announcement, the National Women's Law Center called the move "devastating.""It will discourage students from reporting assaults," the group said in a statement, adding the standards set forth today represent "a huge step back to a time when sexual assault was a secret that was swept under the rug."The American Association of University Women went even further, saying in a statement, "today’s announcement confirms our suspicions: the U.S. Department of Education’s intent is to roll back critical civil rights protections for students."Obama Education Secretary John King tweeted that the move is "shameful and wrong" and "undermines student safety."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • ABC News(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) -- In Puerto Rico, nursing home caregiver Maria Ortiz is trying desperately to get ahead of the suffering her patients may face if she doesn't get aid and supplies quickly for them."We can't let them die. We can't let them die. And we need all the help we can get," said Ortiz as she stood in line for water. "We need help. We need diesel for the generator. We need electricity. We need water."Hurricane Maria came ashore as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday, hitting the island with devastating winds and torrential rains. At least six people have been reported dead so far in the most powerful storm to strike Puerto Rico since 1932.Ortiz brought ABC News to the nursing home, situated in a residential neighborhood. The grounds were still wet and littered with debris and flattened, dead trees. Ortiz also pointed out the lone generator, droning loudly, on the side of the home."This is terrible," she said.Puerto Rico's emergency management agency said Wednesday that 100 percent of the island had lost power, noting that anyone with electricity was using a generator. Authorities said telecommunications throughout the island had also collapsed.Ortiz told ABC News that she had no way to even communicate with her family on the island, though she said she could see her relatives' house from the nursing home.As she walked through the nursing home checking on residents, Ortiz said she was worried about them and felt responsible for their livelihood."We're giving them what they need. ... We're taking care of them," she said. "All they have now is me and my personnel here. That's all they have."Ortiz said that while no patients were suffering at the moment, the nursing home could face dire conditions eventually, especially if the generator went out or she couldn't get more fuel.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A pair of sinkholes have opened up in a central Florida neighborhood after hurricane Irma hit the state earlier this month.Tuesday morning, a huge sinkhole swallowed part of a home in Apopka, Florida, a city 18 miles northwest of Orlando.Luckily, the residents, Ellen and Garry Miller, were not injured in that sinkhole."We made it through the hurricane. We were really, really lucky, and then this," Miller told ABC-affiliate WFTV. "This is the only home I know. It's the only home my kids know."Unfortunately, the Millers are not alone in their plight, as just down the street from them, another sinkhole formed yesterday.The newest sinkhole is about 30 feet wide, according to an Orange County Fire Rescue spokesperson, and is about 100 feet from a house. Officials told WFTV the residents are not being asked to evacuate and should simply monitor the sinkhole situation.  Dave Carpenter lives near the newest sinkhole and told WFTV he's distressed by it."You'd have to be crazy not to be worried about it if one opens right next door to you," Carpenter told WFTV.It's not yet clear if Irma can be blamed for the sinkholes, but a local expert said they tend to show up after hurricanes.“When you have heavy rains, the chances of sinkholes [appearing goes] up quite a bit,” Dr. Manoj Chopra, a University of Central Florida engineering professor, told WFTV. Chopra told WFTV he expects more sinkholes will form throughout the state in the coming weeks.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • artolympic/iStock/Thinkstock(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- An Oklahoma City man was fatally shot by police as neighbors shouted that the man could not hear officers' commands to drop a metal pipe he was holding, police said.The incident occurred Tuesday evening after an accident led officers to a house where Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was outside on the porch, Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews said at a press conference Wednesday.
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  • Chalabala/iStock/Thinkstock(FREDERICK, Md.) -- A Maryland girl could face charges for allegedly helping plot an acquaintance's rape, police said.Just after midnight on Sept. 2, an 18-year-old woman was opening the door to her home when she was grabbed from behind by three males, the Frederick Police Department said in a press release.The suspects struck the victim, pulled her hair, put her in a vehicle and transported her to an unknown apartment in the area, where they proceed to rape her for several hours, police said.The attack was not random, Frederick Police Sgt. Andrew Alcorn told ABC News.A younger girl -- an acquaintance of the victim -- may have been involved in planning the crime, police said, referencing messages sent by the girl on social media before and after the alleged attack. She could later be charged with accessory before the fact as a co-conspirator to the crime, Alcorn said.The victim told police she was held captive for several hours and raped by two of the males, whom she identified as high school classmates Edgar Chicas-Hernandez, 17, and Victor Gonzalez Gutierres, 19, police said.She could not identify the third suspect, who had his face covered while he filmed the events, police said.Before releasing her, the suspects threatened the victim with additional harm if she reported the crime to police. The victim reported the rape to police three days after she was kidnapped, police said.Both Chicas-Hernandez and Gutierres were arrested last week without incident, police said. They were each charged kidnapping, first-degree rape, sodomy, and first- and second-degree assault, according to case documents.Chicas-Hernandez is being charged as an adult, Alcorn said. They have both had their initial court appearances but did not enter pleas, Alcorn said. It is unclear if either of them has retained an attorney.Authorities are still searching for a third suspect, whose identity remains unknown.Police are working with prosecutors to decide whether to charge the acquaintance, who is a juvenile and younger than the suspects and victim, Alcorn said, describing the case as "sensitive" and "serious.""It's just as important to rule her out of investigation as it is to bring her in," he said.Alcorn said he didn't know the exact extent of the conversation the younger girl had with the suspects.The attack does not appear to be gang-related at this point, Alcorn said.Alcorn said situations like this rarely happen in the city of Frederick and that authorities are "taking it very seriously."Police did not release the identities of the victim or the acquaintance who may later be charged.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • mj0007/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time in its nearly 250-year history, the United States Marine Corps will have a female infantry officer, after she graduates from an infantry officer course on Monday, a U.S. official confirmed.The Marine's completion of the course was first reported by The Washington Post. Her identity is not yet public.In 2015, then–Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the decision to open all combat roles to women, ending a ban on their service on the front lines. At the time, the Marine Corps formally advised that women should continue to be prevented from working in combat units.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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