Florida State Criticizes Article on Response to Rape Charge

April 17, 2014

Florida State University officials on Wednesday expressed “deep disappointment” in a front-page New York Times article suggesting that administrators erred in their response to sexual assault allegations against star quarterback Jameis Winston, saying in a statement that the Times omitted FSU statements and did not accurately reflect the university’s efforts to support victims. The Times wrote that an assistant athletic director knew that a former student had accused Winston of rape, but, “in apparent violation of federal law,” the AD either failed to pass the information on to higher-up administrators or did so and they failed to pursue the case. Title IX requires that once a college “knows, or reasonably should know” about sexual harassment, officials “must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.” The article also details how repeated missteps by local police sabotaged their own investigation and contributed to the inability of prosecutors to move forward with the case.

Officials said in a statement that the university “does not tolerate sexual assault” and must weigh several factors -- including federal guidance and the victim’s wishes -- in deciding how to handle sexual assault. The statement also notes many services that FSU provides, including counselor referrals and support and resources for family members.

The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights announced last week it will open an investigation stemming from the alleged victim’s federal complaint that FSU fails to protect students from sexual assault.

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