Florida State’s motion to have a Title IX lawsuit brought against the university dismissed has been denied, multiple media outlets are reporting.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker rejected FSU’s argument that the case should be dismissed, stating in his decision that, when “[v]iewed in the light most favorable to” the plaintiff, Erica Kinsman, the university’s “deliberate indifference” to rape allegations led to the accuser being unable to pursue her educational opportunities — she was a student at FSU at the time of the alleged sexual assault — and thus may have been denied the rights afforded her under Title IX.
“In sum, FSU offers a different take on some of the facts in the complaint and additional facts that are not in the complaint in an attempt to show its efforts to respond were diligent and genuine, or at least not ‘clearly unreasonable’ under Title IX,” Walker wrote in his motion, by way of USA Today. “This Court does not resolve such factual disputes on a motion to dismiss.
“Viewed in the light most favorable to Ms. Kinsman, the complaint plausibly alleges deliberate indifference during this period that effectively denied her the ability to attend FSU.”
The university, obviously, has argued that their response to Kinsman’s accusations were neither clearly unreasonable nor deliberately indifferent, stating that they had immediately offered the accuser, among other services, a victim advocate to help her through the process. Kinsman has claimed that no one at FSU offered her safety precautions as she was being harassed while still on campus.
The lawsuit is set to go to trial in July of 2016.
In late April of this year the lawsuit filed against the university by Kinsman, who accused former Seminole Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her in late 2012, was moved from a federal court in Orlando to one in Tallahassee. The U.S. District Judge in Orlando, Gregory Presnell, agreed with FSU’s contention that he had no jurisdiction over the school.
Kinsman’s lawyers had argued against the change of venue, with the alleged victim claiming she was fearful of her safety if the case was moved to Tallahassee. She also feared she couldn’t get a fair trial in the same city in which Winston had starred for the Seminoles.
In January of this year, Kinsman filed the lawsuit, seeking a trial by jury and damages against the university’s trustees. In the suit, it was claimed that the university was responsible for Title IX violations because of a ‘clearly unreasonable response’” to the sexual assault allegations and “allowing a ‘hostile educational environment.’”
Winston was never charged criminally in connection to the allegations of sexual assault. The lawsuit was filed nearly three weeks after Winston was cleared in the school code of conduct hearing, which was also connected to the rape allegations. The accuser appealed that ruling, but it was subsequently upheld.
In April of last year, attorney’s for the accuser blasted the university for either delaying or outright terminating a Title IX investigation into the allegations. Five months later, it was reported that the university had reopened the investigation.
Winston’s adviser subsequently released a scathing statement claiming that the accuser was the one dragging her feet when it came to the federally-mandated investigation. That adviser, David Cornwell, also accused the alleged victim’s camp of seeking $7 million from Winston to keep quiet.
Also in April of last year, it was reported that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case. Other universities across the country, including Tennessee, are caught up in similar investigations.