Tallahassee, FL- Now that assault allegations against FSU quarterback Jameis Winston have surfaced, a number of questions about how various authorities handled the victim’s complaints almost a year ago have arisen, with some thinking that once again a university has put their football program above the safety of their students.
Last Friday, FSU announced they have launched an investigation into the victim’s allegations, which is what is legally required of the school. However, there is some debate over whether they violated federal laws by delaying an investigation.
The victim in this case said she was sexually assaulted by Winston last December in her off-campus apartment. Her first course of action was to report the incident to campus police, who then turned the case over to Tallahassee police because the alleged assault took place off-campus.
The victim alleges that when she spoke to police they warned her not proceed with a criminal case stating she would be “raked over the coals” if she accused the star athlete of assaulting her. She heeded their warnings and decided not to proceed with the criminal complaint, and the issue was dropped for over a year until last week when the media got wind of the case.
While people may be abhorred by the way the police treated the alleged victim, FSU also failed her by not acting on the allegations, which Winston vehemently denies. Whether you believe her or not, FSU still had a legal and moral responsibility to quickly investigation her allegations, not a year later when they are facing national scrutiny.
Under Title IX, university and colleges are required to investigate sexual harassment, assault and rape allegations promptly which should be concluded within 60 days, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
FSU denies violating Title IX, but it is only a matter of time before the Department of Education looks into their handling of this case, especially in the wake of similar controversies at other colleges across the country.
The penalties for violating Title IX are not typically severe enough for a university to jeopardize their football programs. According to Forbes, the FSU football program generated $34,484,786 in revenue in 2011-2012, which doesn’t account for the revenue that flows into the community. The figures from the Department of Education also showed the football program cost FSU, $22,052,228, giving the
Clearly a top-ranked football program is important for an institution and the surrounding community, but the economic boon maybe fostering a climate where the game is more important than the safety of some of their students.
Should the FSU investigation find that the alleged assault did not take place, they are still vulnerable to a civil suit based on their violation of Title IX. Assault victims at other colleges have Title IX violations to sue their university for their failure to investigate allegations of harassment and assault. The University of Connecticut is facing a Title IX civil suit filed by two women who claim they were raped by athletes, but the university failed to investigate.
The financial penalties associated with a Title IX violation may not be enough for a university to jeopardize their treasured football program, but a student has the right to have their allegations thoroughly investigated. Are there false assault claims? Certainly, but how are we to know a claim is false if no one bothers to investigate?