Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Jameis Winston Sage Continues

            If you pay attention to the news media at all, you have heard of Jameis Winston. He first became famous in Fall of 2013 as an outstanding quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles. He led the Seminoles to an undefeated season, cumulating in a National Championship. However, before that season ended, Jameis Winston was accused of raping a female student in December 2012. Jameis fully admitted they have sex; however, he claims it was consensual.   

            His accuser, who I will not name here (even though she has since gone public in a documentary called The Hunting Ground) sued Jameis Winston Thursday, April 16 2015. In her newest lawsuit, she has accused him of sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of forcible rape. This suit comes about two weeks before the NFL draft. Winston is expected to be a first round draft pick, if not the first draft pick.

            However, this is not the first time the accuser has sought to prosecute Winston. While the incident happened in December 2012, the accuser did not pursue any action against Winston until the Fall of 2013 (it is important to note that she claims she did try to pursue charges against him after the initial incident in December 2012, but the police did not follow through). During that time, she claims, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Florida State University worked together to cover up the crime. An investigation pursued, and Willie Megs, a State Attorney, did not file any charges against Winston.

After the State Attorney dropped the case, the University itself conducted a code of conduct investigation and hearing. The hearing, tried by a former Florida Supreme Court judge, found neither Winston nor the Accusers' story to be more credible than the other; and therefore could not find that Winston violated FSU’s student code of conduct. After FSU declined to punish Winston, the accuser then sued the school itself. She claims that the University deliberately avoided its Title IX obligations and mishandled the investigation to protect their athlete.  The lawsuit is still pending. 

At the end of the day, there are only two people in the world who actually know what happened in the early hours of the morning in December 2012. But, from my count, Winston has been cleared of charges more than once. The State Attorney, who is notorious for prosecuting Athletes, did not find enough evidence to charge Winston with the crime. Then, in FSU’s code of conduct hearing, judged by a neutral 3rd party, Winston was cleared of wrongdoing. The Judge said that “the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that [Winston] [is] responsible for any of the charge violations of the Code. Namely, I find that the evidence before me is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof."

While the burden of proof is low in civil suits, I am not sure she will be able to meet that burden in her civil suit against Winston. The retired Judge was unable to say that Winston committed the act by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a low standard. We’re just going to have to wait and see how the civil suit turns out. Though, now that Winston will be entering the draft and, in theory, becoming wealthy, I wonder if the accuser will push for an out of court settlement. Only time will tell!  

Sara Montgomery, Staff Editor 

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