NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Monday, January 25, 2016, 11:10 PM
While at Florida State, Jameis Winston was accused of raping a student there.
Florida State couldn’t resist taking a cheap shot at the woman who accused former Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston of rape — even as the university was announcing a $ 950,000 settlement of the Title IX lawsuit the alleged sexual assault victim filed last year.
Florida State president John Thrasher said in a news release announcing Car the settlement of the lawsuit Monday that Erica Kinsman, the former student who accused Winston of rape, would receive $ 250,000, while her attorneys “will get more than twice that amount — $ 700,000.”
An attorney for Kinsman says the statement “is not remotely accurate” and is an attempt to make Kinsman and her lawyers look bad.
“It is something FSU is pushing to say this is all about greedy lawyers and that there was not that much damage,” said Kinsman’s attorney John Clune.
The university acknowledges in the actual settlement papers that it doesn’t know how much Kinsman’s attorneys will receive. The settlement, which calls for FSU to send a check for $ 950,000 to Clune’s Colorado law firm Hutchinson, Black and Cook by Feb. 12, says the amount represents “$ 250,000 for Kinsman’s alleged damages and $ 700,000 for attorneys’ fees.”
But in the next paragraph, the settlement says “the parties understand and agree that the foregoing representation does not necessarily reflect the actual allocation between Kinsman and her counsel.”
“Accordingly, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as allocating or in any way controlling in determining the actual amounts due and payable to either Kinsman or her counsel from the lump sum payment,” the settlement papers say.
A university spokeswoman and Florida State attorneys declined to comment on the settlement beyond the statement released by the school Monday.
The $ 950,000 settlement, according to Kinsman’s attorneys, is the largest payoff in history to a single plaintiff to settle a Title IX claim related to a sexual assault.
Kinsman’s lawsuit, filed in January 2015, claims the university violated Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination, including rape and sexual abuse, based on gender in any education program that receives federal funding. The law also requires schools to report rape allegations to federal authorities. Kinsman’s complaint claims Florida State fostered a “hostile educational environment” and refused to investigate her allegation as mandated by law.
Thrasher’s statement said FSU agreed to the settlement to avoid spending millions of dollars in litigation expenses. But attorney Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a consultant for Kinsman’s legal team and the chief executive officer of a non-profit called Champion Women that advocates for women and girls in sports, said the reality was far more complicated.
Jameis Winston is coming off his rookie season in the NFL with the Buccaneers.
Hogshead-Makar said several Florida State players were scheduled to be deposed in the case within the next two weeks, and the settlement means they won’t have to undergo questioning by Kinsman’s attorneys. It also means the school won’t have to explain what it does to enable athletes to continue to play football “regardless of their off-field behavior,” Hogshead-Makar said.
The U.S. Department of Education will continue to investigate what Kinsman’s attorneys called “FSU’s Title IX deficiencies.”
“The Hunting Ground,” a 2015 CNN documentary about campus sexual assault, raised disturbing questions about Winston, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and how the university and Tallahassee police handled the Kinsman case. In the film, Kinsman says she downed a shot with Winston in a Tallahassee nightclub. She believes the drink was spiked with a drug.
Kinsman said in the film that she later went to Winston’s apartment with the quarterback, where she claims he raped her.
Tallahassee police officer Scott Angulo, according to Kinsman, told her that she should think twice about filing a report against a star athlete. In the film, she says the cop — a former Florida State student and fund-raiser — told her, “This is a huge football town. You really should think long and hard if you want to press charges.” Tallahassee did nothing for 10 months, and the documentary concludes the police dragged their feet on the investigation in order to protect the FSU football program.
Winston was never charged with a crime and has claimed he had consensual sex with Kinsman. Florida state attorney Willie Meggs said there was insufficient evidence to prove rape. A Florida State conduct code panel cleared Winston of any wrongdoing.
Kinsman filed a civil suit last year in Florida federal court against Winston, who counter-sued her. The lawsuits are ongoing and not impacted by FSU’s settlement of the Title IX case.
“If you look at a star player like Jameis Winston versus a victim, the economics for victims is all wrong,” Hogshead-Makar said. “The economics don’t incentivize the school to do the right thing by victims of very skillful and talented athletes in football and basketball.
“The economic boost that they get by being in the national championship and having a Heisman Trophy winner outweigh any harm to the victim, even if they have to pay an enormous settlement. (Schools) would say, ‘It’s worth it because we’re getting so much more out of here by having a very successful football program.’”