Jameis Winston May Be Ready For The NFL, But His Accuser Is Ready For Justice

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winstonIf you want to understand the reach and power of the NFL at the expense of victims, look no further than the case of Jameis Winston. The Florida State quarterback recently declared for the 2015 NFL draft, where he is predicted to be a high first-round pick. Meanwhile, the woman who accused him of rape in 2012, has just filed a lawsuit against the school alleging that Winston was not brought to justice due to his star power. And I, for one, believe her.

Winston is an exceptionally talented athlete who has had off-field trouble since he arrived at FSU (you can see a timeline of his brushes with the law at Fox Sports). But the fact that this soon-to-be-millionaire stole some crab legs once is not really a concern to me. The fact that he was accused of rape and both the school and the police department showed an egregious lack of interest in pursuing the case, does.

First, though there is proof that the athletic department knew about the rape allegations in January of 2013 (a month after he won the prestigious Heisman Trophy and two months after his accuser dropped out of school due to harassment), no one requested an interview with Winston about the case until January of 2014 (after FSU won the college football national championship.) If that timing seems suspicious to you, it should. Second, the police ended up dropping the case because they claimed that the victim stopped cooperating with the investigation. According to a previous lawsuit filed by the victim, this is b.s. From Salon:

Late last year, Mr. Winston’s accuser and another Florida State student filed internal-affairs complaints, charging that Tallahassee police officers had investigated them, rather than the accused, and then prematurely dropped their cases.


“My attorney’s repeated calls to Tallahassee Police Department prove that I had not dropped the case,” Mr. Winston’s accuser wrote in her Dec. 19 complaint.


Two days earlier, the other student had written, “Why did the detective insist my case was closed and refused to answer calls and emails?” She added, “I am SO ANGRY!”

This week, Winston announced that he will leave Florida State and enter the NFL draft in the spring. He will, almost without a doubt, be drafted within the top five picks. The NFL acknowledges that Winston has “character issues,” which is also how they refer to players who are late for practice or fail drug tests. The fact that he has been accused of a rape that was never properly investigated does not make a difference. If Winston can win football games, then the world will clearly move mountains to allow him to do that at the professional level.

His accuser, however, has not given up. She has now filed a lawsuit against FSU claiming that they violated her rights under Title IX, which states that universities must investigate accusations of sexual assault even if criminal charges are not filed. From CNN:

The university said the athletics department did not initially file a report with the school’s Title IX administrator because no charges were filed and because other players who were with Winston said there was no sexual assault.

Oh. Well, if the other players said nothing happened…

I love football. It is my sport of choice. But I am horrified by the degree to which these young men are excused and catered to so that other people can make money off their backs. I am also awed by the courage of the young woman in this case, who has so many powerful entities against her but who is still saying, “This is wrong. I was mistreated. And that is not okay.”

(Photo: Twitter via Jezebel)