Thursday, December 15, 2016

An end to the Winston saga

In a rather unsurprising move, a settlement has been announced in the case of former Florida State University students Erica Kinsman and Jameis Winston. Kinsman's lawsuit against the former FSU quarterback and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB (and Winston's countersuit) has been resolved via an undisclosed settlement. The trial, a goal of which was to hold Winston accountable for raping Kinsman four years ago, was scheduled for April 2017.

No one else held Winston accountable. Local and university police did not investigate properly and the lack of police evidence and interference in the investigative process meant the state attorney general could not effectively prosecute him. FSU also failed to investigate; held a ridiculous student conduct hearing overseen by a former federal judge who had no idea how to run such a hearing; and then found that there was not evidence (over a year later--in violation of Title IX's 6-month time frame) to suggest the sex was not consensual.

As an outsider who closely followed this case, the incompetence, the denial, the misogyny, and overall disregard for student welfare was immensely frustrating. There is little to suggest that FSU has realized the error of its ways or that the culture of Jimbo Fisher's team has changed.

I am not suggesting that the settlement was unwise or that I believe a trial would have produced some desired result. I do think that Winston benefited immensely from the settlement in terms of PR. He has been scandal-free since joining the NFL and Bucs fans seem to love him. A trial that brings up his past might remind (or inform) some people of what he got away with. He learned well from his alma mater that image is everything and paying to make image problems go away is worth it.

As a reminder, Kinsman tells her story in the documentary The Hunting Ground.