CNN Airs Documentary Labeled ‘Defamation’ by Jameis Winston’s Lawyers on Record Day for QB

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Jameis Winston enjoyed his best day as a pro on Sunday afternoon on Fox, throwing five touchdowns in a 45-17 road rout over the Philadelphia Eagles. On Sunday evening on CNN, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback endured a one-sided beatdown on The Hunting Ground, a documentary alleging an “epidemic” of campus sexual assault that supports the charge that Heisman Trophy-winner raped a woman while attending Florida State University.

“All these people were praising him,” a disgusted Erica Kinsman says of the athlete she accused of raping her. “People were just calling me names—a slut, a whore.”

Kinsman suggests in the film that the football culture in Tallahassee overwhelmed justice in her case. “This is a big football town,” Kinsman says a cop told her. “You should really think long and hard whether you want to press charges or not.”

The victim reported the alleged rape to the Tallahassee Police Department in December of 2012. The documentary says that law enforcement botched the case by refusing to quickly identify Kinsman’s assailant by obtaining video surveillance from a local bar or an eyewitness account from a cab driver. The accuser says she finally identified her alleged assailant by the happenstance of spotting him in a class and hearing his name on the attendance roll call. Up until that point, the former FSU student maintains, “I didn’t know who he was.”

Ultimately, neither the Tallahassee police nor the university assessed the evidence enough to charge the quarterback with wrongdoing. A state attorney similarly refused to bring charges, citing lack of evidence and “major problems” with the accuser’s testimony.

Winston tied a Buccaneers record for passing touchdowns in a game and an NFL record TD completions in a game by a rookie. “It’s just another day that I was blessed with,” Winston told the media a few hours before CNN sacked him for a loss. “I have a baseball mentality. Today, I went 5-for-5. You never know what the next day holds. You’ve got to get better every single day.”

The quarterback currently sues his accuser for defamation. Winston’s lawyer threatened a lawsuit against CNN if the network aired the “defamatory” film.

In a letter to CNN executives, including Jeff Zucker, Winston attorney John Boudet writes: “The filmmakers’ decision to omit any reference to any of this abundant exculpatory evidence from this documentary—i.e., the toxicology tests refuting Ms. Kinsman’s claim of being drugged or drunk; the medical examinations refuting Ms. Kinsman’s claim to her friends that she suffered a violent blow to the head that rendered her unconscious; the multiple independent eyewitnesses refuting Ms. Kinsman’s assertion that she was incapacitated and incapable of giving legal consent, and much, much more—demonstrates a profound bias and disregard for the truth.”

The filmmaker claimed in one email obtained by Winston’s lawyers that she planned to “ambush” the first pick of the 2015 NFL draft. In another the filmmaker admits, “We don’t operate the same way as journalists—this film project is very much in the corner of advocacy for victims, so there would be no need to get the perpetrator’s side.”


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