Florida State University has reached a settlement in a Title IX lawsuit with a former student who claimed that the university failed to properly investigate allegations that she was raped by former football quarter back Jameis Winston. The settlement was announced the day before Winston’s accuser, Erica Kinsman, was scheduled to give a deposition in the case. FSU President John Thrasher released the statement, “Although we regret we will never be able to tell our full story in court, it is apparent that a trial many months from now would have left FSU fighting over the past rather than looking toward its very bright future.” FSU is making a five-year commitment to sexual assault awareness and prevention, and will publish annual reports over the next five years about these programs. The university has formed a Sexual Assault Task Group, hired a full-time Title IX coordinator, added six positions to improve campus safety, and now requires all incoming freshmen to complete an online course that encourages them make more informed choices about sex and relationships.
Kinsman has filed a separate lawsuit against Winston. Winston then filed a countersuit against her claiming that she is trying to take advantage of his newfound financial gains as the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both cases are ongoing and are not affected by Kinsman’s settlement with FSU. Kinsman claims that she was drunk at a Tallahassee bar near campus in December 2012, and that Winston and others took her to his apartment where she was raped. Winston claims these allegations are false and that he and Kinsman has consensual sex. Prosecutors say there is not enough evidence to win a conviction and that there are gaps in Kinsman’s story. Kinsman has spoken publicly about her case, including doing a documentary on her story.
A Title IX investigation by the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education in response to a complaint made by Kinsman in 2014 is also ongoing. She left FSU as a student in November 2013 when the case became public and complained that continued harassment denied her of her educational rights under Title IX. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. In 2011, the department warned schools of their legal responsibilities to immediately investigate allegations of sexual assault, even if a criminal investigation is still active. Since Kinsman’s very public case against Winston and FSU, universities across the country have decided to proactively increase their sexual assault awareness programs as well. Kinsman has stated that the goal of her actions is to hold Winston and FSU accountable for what happened to her and to hopefully inspire widespread, positive change.
If you wish to learn more about sexual assault on college campus, Title IX, and universities’ legal responsibilities to protect it’s students, contact Thomas Law Offices for more information.
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