Florida State Reaches Historic Settlement Over Sexual Assault Case

Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images.
Florida State University has reached a $950,000 settlement with Erica Kinsman, who filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school last year over the way it handled her sexual assault investigation. $250,000 of the settlement will go to Kinsman, while $700,000 will go to her attorneys.

Kinsman told police that she was raped by FSU quarterback Jameis Winston in December 2012. Winston, for his part, insisted that the sex between he and Kinsman was consensual. Kinsman left the school in November 2013, and Winston now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Kinsman sued Florida State when the school's disciplinary hearing and an investigation from the state attorney's office didn't lead to charges against Winston. In her lawsuit, filed in January 2015, Kinsman claimed that Florida State wanted "to protect the football program," resulting in a lack of charges. The New York Times uncovered a long list of errors and procedural missteps in the school's investigation.

USA Today notes that the $950,000 settlement represents "the largest settlement for Title IX claims regarding indifference to a student’s reported sexual assault." Title IX, a federal law that protects gender equity, requires colleges and universities to investigate gender-based discrimination cases and reports of sexual harassment and rape, The Tampa Bay Times explains.

"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. "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."

Florida State University President John Thrasher said in a statement that the university agreed to the settlement to avoid further litigation costs, but the school didn't admit to liability.
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