Ex-Florida State QB Jameis Winston has been hit with a civil lawsuit today from the woman who claims he allegedly raped her in December 2012 in an off-campus apartment in Tallahassee.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and college football national champion, who is expected to be taken early — perhaps first — in the upcoming NFL draft on April 30, has insisted the encounter was consensual.
Local prosecutors declined to charge Winston criminally in the incident in November 2013, in part because of lack of evidence. Winston was also cleared in a December 2014, student code of conduct probe — the retired state supreme court justice overseeing the hearing suggested that it boiled down more or less to a he said/she said scenario.
The lawsuit filed today in Orange County, Florida, court by lawyers for plaintiff Erica Kinsman, Winston’s accuser, seeks money damages, including punitive damages, for sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of forcible rape, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
The burden of proof in a civil case (where no jail time is in play) is by a preponderance of the evidence which is a much lower hurdle than in a criminal case, in which guilt must be established beyond a or to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt. The preponderance of the evidence standard sometimes means that a plaintiff merely has to tip the evidentiary scales 51-49 to win in civil court.
Kinsman also has a pending Title IX civil lawsuit in federal court in connection with this incident, alleging that Florida State harbored a sexually hostile environment.
Kinsman’s attorney released a statement about the new legal filing against Jameis Winston.
“Today, a very brave young woman filed her lawsuit against Jameis Winston for the sexual battery that she reported to police in December 2012. Over the past two years, this survivor of sexual violence has had to endure a delinquent police investigation, a hostile FSU athletic department, and Mr. Winston’s bullying lawyer. But the more these forces sought to silence her, the more determined she has become to step forward and hold Jameis Winston accountable for his actions. With the support of her family, she is prepared for this fight and for the counterclaims and the smear campaigns that will surely follow… Jameis Winston in contrast has proven time and time again to be an entitled athlete who believes he can take what he wants. He took something here that he was not entitled to and he hurt someone. There are consequences for that behavior and since others have refused to hold him accountable, our client will.”
Winston’s attorney has yet to make comment about the legal complaint filed today, according to ESPN and other news outlets.
Over the months in between, there has been much chatter in the sports media that off-the-field issues might affect the star quarterback’s NFL draft stock. Current projections are, however, that Jameis Winston could be taken first by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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