The woman alleging that Jameis Winston raped her filed a Title IX lawsuit against Florida State University on Wednesday.
“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 December 7, 2012 rape investigation,” the suit alleges. “This deliberate concealment of student-on-student sexual harassment to protect the football program deprived Plaintiff of her rights under Title IX and caused substantial damages.”
The legal action in the United States District Court in Orlando coincides with an announcement by Winston’s father that the 2013 Heisman Trophy-winner will forgo his final two years of eligibility at Florida State to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Despite the NFL struggling with public relations problems stemming in large part from Ray Rice’s videoed assault on his then-fiancée in an Atlantic City elevator, Winston appears a lock to land with a team in the first few picks of the draft. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers own the first pick, and several other teams with quarterback issues, such as the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, and New York Jets, hold picks in the top ten.
Winston has struggled with off-field problems in Tallahassee. On the field, he has excelled. Oregon’s drubbing of the Seminoles on New Year’s Day marked Winston’s first loss behind center at Florida State in two seasons of starting. Whether Marcos Mariota, this year’s Heisman winner and the quarterback who finally beat Winston’s Seminoles, hears his name before FSU’s red-shirt sophomore remains an open question. But both figure to shake Commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand early in the night.
The man announcing the draft’s selections suffers from a PR problem. Its teams have quarterback problems. The competing interests all-but guarantee more bad news ahead for the league.
A state prosecutor cited lack of evidence in declining to prosecute Winston in late 2013. A former justice on Florida’s Supreme Court similarly cited lack of evidence when he cleared Winston in an FSU student code-of-conduct hearing last month.
The federal suit filed Wednesday contends that after the woman identified her alleged assailant in January 2013, “FSU did nothing to investigate Plaintiff’s report of rape” and the school’s athletics department did much to “keep the incident a secret.”