Winston Suit Over Rape Claims Will Continue

     (CN) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winton’s defamation countersuit against the woman who accused him of raping her at Florida State University in 2012 will move forward, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Judge Anne Conway of upheld the defamation claim contained in the lawsuit Winston filed in May, but tossed his claim of tortuous interference.
     “The court rejects Mr. Winston’s argument that his tortuous interference count is legally independent from his defamation claims,” Conway wrote on Tuesday.
     “Throughout the tortuous interference count, Mr. Winston refers repeatedly to the ‘false statements,’ and the allegations in that count make abundantly clear that he contends it is the ‘false statements’ that have injured his professional reputation and his prospective business relationships,” the judge continued. “In reality, the alleged harms about which Mr. Winston complains in his tortuous interference count are consequences flowing from the alleged defamatory statements.”
     Former FSU student Erica Kinsman sued Winston in April, on claims of rape, sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     A month later, after the Buccaneers made Winston the top pick in this year’s NFL draft, he filed a countersuit, arguing Kinsman’s allegations caused him to lose possible endorsement deals and severely damaged his reputation.
     Winston admits to having sex with Kinsman, but has insisted it was consensual. Police did not charge the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner after Kinsman reported the alleged rape, and. FSU declined to take any administrative action against its star college quarterback.
     Kinsman attempted to convince the judge that Winston’s defamation claims were time-barred. However, Conway rejected this argument due to Kinsman’s separate statements about the alleged rape, including appearing in a recent documentary film called “The Hunting Ground.”
     “Consider the absurdity if [the single publication rule] did apply,” she wrote. “Assuming, as this court must at this stage, that Ms. Kinsman’s rape accusations are false, application of the single publication rule would mean that two years after her first defamatory statements, Ms. Kinsman would be free to shout from the rooftops for the rest of her life that Mr. Winston is a rapist, without fear of legal consequence. That cannot be the law.”
     Judge Conway also rebuked Winston’s “preliminary statement” submitted before his answer to Kinsman’s suit, calling it “an argumentative, free-flowing narrative.”
     “It was obviously penned more for the consumption of the court of public opinion than for this court and the other participants in the case,” she wrote. “The court cannot recall ever seeing such a remarkable and improper introduction to an answer.”
     The trial is scheduled for May 2017.

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