Florida State University (FSU) asked a federal judge on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the college’s board of trustees by Erica Kinsman, a former student, who claimed that a top NFL prospect, Jameis Winston, sexually assaulted her in 2012. The lawsuit alleges that university officials knew about the assault but did not take action and that had created a hostile environment for her.
The case seeks unspecified damages, including reimbursement for tuition, damages for emotional pain and suffering, and loss of past and present earning capacity. However, the FSU statement claims that the university is not responsible for the online harassment she was subjected to and that it had offered her assistance, after the alleged assault, The Associated Press reported. According to Kinsman's lawsuit, she was provided assistance by a university lawyer but the school’s higher authorities were unaware of the case until it was brought to public notice in November 2013.
"Title IX's officials at FSU learned of Kinsman's alleged assault by Winston days before the rest of the world. Which is consistent with her failure to allege that she ever spoke with any FSU official outside of the Victim Advocate Program prior to August 6th, 2014," FSU said, in the statement, according to WCTV, adding: "Kinsman's allegations led to an internet and social media backlash- harassment that FSU did not cause, in an environment that FSU could not control."
According to Kinsman’s lawsuit, she reported the assault to the university and Tallahassee police in December 2012, before dropping out of school in 2013 after the story became public, and she and her sorority began getting threats on social media, USA Today reported. Kinsman also alleged that FSU football team coach Jimbo Fisher and Mark Bonasorte, a senior athletic department official, knew about Kinsman’s complaint against Winston in January 2013, several months before local police gave the case to a local prosecutor.
However, FSU says that no "appropriate person at FSU had actual knowledge" of the assault until Nov. 8, 2013, USA Today reported, though Kinsman has claimed that some of the school's officials were aware but they did not notify FSU's Title IX coordinator or the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
"Only rank speculation supports Kinsman's theory that an earlier investigation would have reached a different result imposing a sanction on Winston, derailed his college football career, and rendered Kinsman's assault allegations un-newsworthing," FSU’s response said, according to USA Today. "Thus, Kinsman cannot establish that FSU's alleged deliberate indifference could have been the proximate cause of any harassment she suffered through social media and the Internet."
In December 2014, it was reported that Winston had been cleared of violating FSU's student conduct code in connection to Kinsman's allegation of the December 2012 assault.