Erica Kinsman claims that in early December of 2012, Jameis Winston, winner of the Heisman trophy in 2013, and current NFL quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, raped her while they were both students at Florida State University.
Additionally, Kinsman filed a Title IX lawsuit against FSU for concealing the investigation so that Winston could continue to play football. Kinsman called the school “deliberately indifferent” to her report, and she eventually transferred to a different university. Now over three years later, FSU is finally dealing with the accusation.
On Jan. 25, 2016, the school settled with Kinsman for $950,000, including attorney’s fees. The school also made a five year commitment to sexual assault awareness, prevention and training programs with annual reports to be made on the programs.
John Thrasher, the president of the university, denied any liability to the school, saying that it was easier to settle with Kinsman and move forward with FSU’s “bright future.” The university’s officials believe that the ultimate outcome, had they chosen to fight a long battle, would have aligned with previous investigations and the school would have won. This is in reference to the initial investigation and a student conduct hearing which cleared Jameis of any wrongdoing in December 2014.
According to Kinsman, Winston sexually assaulted her in his apartment after they met at a local bar. Winston claims that all sexual acts were consensual, and in response to Kinsman’s suit against him, he filed a countersuit of defamation. That suit has yet to be settled. Winston won the Heisman Trophy in 2013, led FSU to a national championship in 2014, and that same year he was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
Kinsman’s claim that FSU covered up the initial investigation so that Winston could continue to play football for the college could be legitimate for several reasons. One is that Kinsman went to the hospital and contacted police the night of the incident, prompting an investigation. A second reason is that Florida State admitted that senior associate athletics director and the head football coach knew of the alleged rape but they did not notify the Title IX coordinator. Thirdly, Fox Sports media investigators found multiple instances of suspicious handling of incidents involving FSU players by the Tallahassee Police Department.
According to the New York Times, this story presents two issues: First, are universities handling allegations of sexual assault justly and with proper emphasis? Secondly, we must consider whether colleges and police departments give special treatment to accused athletes because of their social status and deemed importance.
Erica Kinsman has said that while this experience has been extremely trying, she hopes that it will shed some light on an important issue. Whether the accusations against Jameis Winston and Florida State University are true or not, as students we should seriously consider the concerns at play in this story.