Friday, January 09, 2015

FSU responds to lawsuit

Florida State President John Thrasher responded to the news that the university was facing a Title IX lawsuit as a result of its handling of the sexual assault allegations against Jameis Winston (who has announced--as expected, though apparently the party line is that he only decided earlier this week--that he will enter the NFL draft this year). So a bad news/good news week for Thrasher, though I am sure which adjective goes with which announcement might be different in public versus behind closed doors.

I would suspect everyone involved with the entity that is Jameis Winston is probably a little relieved not to have to work so hard to keep him out of trouble and eligible for the next two years. Public statements are expressing sadness though.

Thrasher's public statements regarding the lawsuit suggest he is not worried--just disappointed:
Florida State University is disappointed to learn of this lawsuit. The university has not yet been served and will need time to review the complaint fully before we respond in detail."

That is when he should have stopped speaking about this issue. But he went on to say that the university did everything the victim asked for and that she was not cooperative regarding the investigation into the events of that night in December 2012.

His version of the handling of the allegations stands in stark contrast to the outline of events in the complaint filed Wednesday. He also said that he looked forward to clearing FSU's name regarding "selective news leaks and distorted coverage." He's probably not in a great position to talk about leaks given that the accused received police reports from a university employee before that information arrived at the DA's office. Also, the timeline of events that has been reported in the news and by the accused is one that FSU has confirmed.

Thrasher is also touting the university's Victim Advocate Program and implying that they work they did for the victim somehow absolves the university of its duty to investigate the allegations in a timely manner. The VAP did indeed seem to do an excellent job in this case, but it is not a mandatory reporter. The investigation should have happened regardless of whether the victim used VAP's services or not and it should have been triggered by the reporting of the crime to the university police on the night of the incident. It should have been done whether the victim was going to pursue a disciplinary hearing or not.

Thrasher is claiming that she stymied the investigation because of refusal to be interviewed. This directly contradicts the facts presented in the filing. Again, he probably should have waited to review the complaint. There are emails chronicling these requests and events! 

I am not sure how to read Thrasher's response. Hubris? Ignorance? Privilege? It seems to be an ill-advised (is anyone advising him?) response given the evidence against the school and the situation it finds itself in.