Jameis Winston’s Accuser, Florida State Settle Lawsuit for Nearly $1 Million


Jameis Winston’s accuser and Florida State University have reached a $950,000 settlement in a civil lawsuit, ending a months-long legal saga between Zephyrhills’ Erica Kinsman and her former school.

Kinsman will receive $250,000 in exchange for dropping the federal Title IX lawsuit; her attorneys will receive $700,000, according to a statement released Monday by FSU. Kinsman’s attorneys, John Clune and Baine Kerr, said that split is inaccurate. Regardless, the total lump sum payment is believed to be the largest ever to one plaintiff in a Title IX sexual assault case.

In a statement, FSU president John Thrasher said settling the case helps the university avoid “millions of dollars in additional litigation expense.”

“We have an obligation to our students, their parents and Florida taxpayers to deal with this case, as we do all litgation, in a financially responsible manner,” Thrasher said. “With all the economic demands we face, at some point it doesn’t make sense to continue even though we are convinced we would have prevailed (in court).”

Monday’s settlement is the latest development in a case dating back to a December 2012 off-campus sexual encounter between Winston and Kinsman when both were freshmen at FSU.

Kinsman told police that night that she was raped and identified Winston – a prized recruit who was redshirting for the Seminoles – as the suspect a few weeks later; Winston has denied all wrongdoing and said the sex was consensual.

After a State Attorney’s Office investigation and an FSU disciplinary hearing ended without charges against Winston, Kinsman sued the school. Her January 2015 lawsuit alleged that FSU deliberately hid sexual assault claims against Winston “to protect the football program.” A year after the encounter, Winston won the Heisman Trophy and led the Seminoles to the program’s third national championship.

The suit – first filed under the pseudonym Jane Doe – accused FSU of violating the federal gender equity law Title IX with its “clearly unreasonable response” and “hostile educational environment” that forced her to leave the university as the case became public in November 2013. Title IX requires schools to investigate and remedy gender discrimination, including sexual harassment and rape. A U.S. District Court trial had been scheduled for September in Tallahassee, and an official notice to dismiss the case without any admission of wrongdoing will be filed by Feb. 13, according to court documents.

“I’ll always be disappointed that I had to leave the school I dreamed of attending since I was little,” Kinsman said in a statement released by her attorneys. “I am happy that FSU has committed to continue making changes in order to ensure a safer environment for all students. My hope is that the federal investigation of my complaint by the Office of Civil Rights will produce even more positive change, not just at FSU, but across the country.”

The Tampa Bay Times does not generally name victims or possible victims of sexual assault. But Kinsman has identified herself in court documents and has told her story publicly in The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual assaults on college campuses.

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SOURCE: The Tampa Bay Times – Matt Baker