Student Brings Title IX Lawsuit Against FSU for Allegedly Mishandling Rape Claims Against Star Quarterback

Because our reputations are so valuable, any accusation of wrongdoing can cause serious damage to a person’s career and social life. As a result, accusations should be handled delicately and this is especially true when it comes to rape.

When a college student is raped by a professor or fellow student, the college or university the student attends is required to react in accordance with the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX. This ensures that both parties will be dealt with fairly, and that the identity of the accuser will be protected.

According to a recent lawsuit, Florida State University (FSU) failed to comply with Title IX when a student accused Jameis Winston, the quarterback of the University’s football team, of raping her. Winston is now reportedly leaving for the NFL.

The morning after the alleged rape, the accuser went to a local hospital where she was examined by authorities who obtained evidence for a rape kit. After that, the case was turned over to the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD).

Winston became a suspect in the case when the accuser said she recognized him as a fellow classmate at FSU. She allegedly reported this to the TPD

The FSU athletics department was allegedly in contact with the TPD while the senior associate director of athletics, Monk Bonasorte, and the football coach, Jimbo Fisher, allegedly knew of the rape accusation against Winston.

The lawsuit alleges a TPD investigator called Winston to request an interview, then contacted Bonasorte to inform him that Winston was a suspect in a rape investigation. Not long after that, Bonasorte called Tim Jansen, who ended up representing Winston in the case. The next day, Winston allegedly did not show up for his interview. Jansen came instead.

According to the lawsuit, FSU hindered TPD’s investigation of the alleged rape “so that Winston’s FSU football career would be unaffected.” The complaint also alleges “The FSU Athletics Department chose to violate school policy and not report to the FSU administration that their star recruit had been identified as the suspect in the Dec. 7, 2012, rape investigation”.

When the rape accusation went public in November 2013, the case drew media attention, and the accuser’s identity was revealed in multiple places online. She received death threats and the tires on a car belonging to one of her sorority sisters were slashed, all of which resulted in the accuser dropping out of FSU.

The state’s attorney’s office did not charge Winston with any crime and the Florida Supreme Court justice, Major B. Harding, determined there was not enough evidence that indicated Winston had violated the FSU code of conduct.

The lawsuit alleges, “Had FSU … complied with its own policies and federal law by promptly investigating plaintiff’s rape and sanctioning Winston while protecting plaintiff’s safety, Winston would have been removed as a threat to plaintiff long before ever suiting up to play football in a Seminoles jersey, and plaintiff would be on campus progressing toward an FSU degree.”

The accuser has filed a lawsuit seeking a jury trial and an unspecified amount of damages, including, but not limited to, reimbursement and payment for her education expenses; payment of expenses incurred as a result of the sexual assault; damages for emotional pain and suffering; loss of enjoyment of life and lost future earnings. The lawsuit is also seeking injunctive relief that would require FSU to comply with Title IX law.

FSU’s president, John Thrasher, said in a statement that, “Florida State looks forward to addressing these meritless allegations in court. Evidence will show that through its confidential Victim Advocate Program, FSU did everything the plaintiff asked for and that the assertions FSU shirked its Title IX obligations are false.”

Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorney Peter Lubin a 2015 Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over a quarter of a century of experience in litigating University related disputes, defamation, slander, and libel claims complex class action, consumer rights and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist students in Title IX cases.  We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud.

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