Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault last fall, but an investigation ended up with no charges pressed against the Heisman Trophy quarterback. Though Winston escaped criminal charges, a civil case appears to be looming. According to a report published Friday by FOX Sports, the lawyer representing Winston’s accuser has hired two high-profile attorneys specializing in sexual assault and Title IX cases.
According to the report, attorneys John Clune and Baine Kerr will work with Patricia Carroll “to evaluate the conduct of a number of individuals and entities in this matter and assess their civil and criminal liability.” Carroll is the lawyer who has been representing Winston’s accuser. In addition to Winston, the attorneys will review the possibility of pursuing civil action against Florida State University and Tallahassee police. When the investigation concluded there was not evidence to charge Winston last fall, just before the ACC Championship Game, Carroll made it clear her fight was not going to end.
At this time it is unknown if civil action will indeed be pursued. For now the legal team now assembled will review the situation, evidence and various reports to determine if civil action will be appropriate. It is likely a civil lawsuit will be presented.
“After meeting with them,” Carroll said in the FOX Sports report. “I am confident that anyone who has liability in this case will be held accountable and justice will be served for my client at the end of the day.”
It sure sounds as though the legal representation for Winston’s accuser is determined to pursue civil action. So, what does this mean as far as football is concerned?
First, we do not know what the timeline of any civil suit would follow yet so it is difficult to project. According to the Florida State Intercollegiate Athletics Policies and Procedures, any student found to be guilty of sexual harassment could be subject to expulsion from the university. This could be a gray area because Winston has not been charged with any crimes in the legal system and a civil lawsuit does not carry any jail time for being found guilty.
Whatever happens, it will be sure to cast a little bit of a dark cloud over Winston and could potentially hover over the university as a whole, but let’s hold off on too much speculation and legal analysis until a civil lawsuit is filed.