Suit by Winston Accuser Moved to Tallahassee

     (CN) – Two days before quarterback Jameis Winston is expected to be the top draft pick in the NFL Draft, a civil rights lawsuit filed by the woman who accused him of rape has been transferred to Tallahassee, where Winston played college football.
     Winston is not a party to the lawsuit, which was originally filed in the Orlando, Fla. Federal Court.
     Erica Kinsman sued the Florida State University Board of Trustees in January as Jane Doe, claiming it did not investigate her report of alleged sexual assault by Winston in December 2012.
     “The FSU Athletics Department called meetings involving high-ranking FSU Athletics Department and football officials, Winston, and Winston’s lawyer. On information and belief, head football coach James ‘Jimbo’ Fisher and Senior Associate Athletics Director Frances ‘Monk’ Bonasorte became aware of the rape accusations against Winston at that time,” the complaint states.
     “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. 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,” it continues.
     U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell granted FSU’s motion to transfer on Tuesday, ruling that Kinsman’s claims are alleged to have occurred in the Northern Florida district and FSU’s trustees board does not necessarily reside in the middle district.
     “The board asserts, and Kinsman does not dispute, that less than one half of one percent of the university’s students study at the four satellite campuses, and less than one half of one percent of the university’s employees work there,” Presnell wrote. “Such a comparatively tiny portion of the school’s overall activities are not enough to render the board at home in this district. And Kinsman offers nothing else. Accordingly, the court concludes that the board is not subject to personal jurisdiction in the Middle District of Florida for purposes of [federal law] and therefore venue is not proper here.”
     Winston has maintained his innocence, was not arrested or charge in the case, and was cleared in December of violating the university’s student code of conduct. Kinsman claims in her lawsuit that FSU dropped its investigation after Winston refused to answer questions.
     Kinsman also says she was forced to drop out of college due to harassment and threats in November 2013.
     “Plaintiff received threats on her life on various social media outlets. Her sorority received a threat to burn down their house. The tires on a car belonging to a sorority sister were slashed; and other sorority sisters were targeted and threatened,” her lawsuit states. “Personal information about plaintiff was leaked and spread across the Internet. False and defamatory attacks, including photoshopped photos of plaintiff, appeared. She was called a slut, whore, “cleat chaser,’ and other obscenities not worthy of reproduction here.”
     Winston was awarded the Heisman Trophy in December 2013, and his Florida State football team won the BCS National Championship a few weeks later.
     Kinsman seeks unspecific damages and injunctive relief to compel FSU to comply with Title IX.
     She is represented by David King of King, Blackwell, Zehnder & Wermuth in Orlando.
     The FSU Board of Trustees is represented by Carlos Muniz of McGuire Woods LLP in Tallahassee, according to court records.
     In a statement provided to Courthouse News, FSU President John Thrasher said, “”We are very pleased with today’s ruling granting the university’s request to move the proceedings to the Northern District of Florida.
     “Judicial rules generally require that a matter be heard in the venue in which it arose and, given the location of the witnesses and evidence in this case, the Northern District is the only logical choice. Trying this case in Orlando would have caused added and unnecessary expense for all involved. We look forward to a prompt and equitable resolution of this case in favor of Florida State University,” Thrasher said.

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