Jimbo Fisher says he was unaware of FSU sexual battery policy in deposition

26 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

F.S.U. Reported Few Rape Cases to the U.S..

According to a report from Gary Fineout of the Associated Press, the former director of the Florida State University’s victim advocate program detailed 20 claims of sexual assault and said “she was concerned that athletes get preferential treatment during investigations of misconduct.” Melissa Ashton held the victim advocate position until August and “made the statement in a deposition given this past June in an ongoing civil lawsuit” filed by a former student against the university. Fineout also reported that Ashton said “most of the 20 victims who alleged sexual assaults by team members during the past nine years declined to press student conduct charges.” The student who brought the civil lawsuit to the school did so because she said Florida State did not respond to her allegations that she was sexually assaulted by former quarterback Jameis Winston.

Earlier this summer the administrator, Melissa Ashton, gave a deposition related to the Title IX lawsuit Erica Kinsman has filed against Florida State. The former official, Melissa Ashton, who ran the advocate office in 2014, also testified that in the nine years she worked in that office, an estimated 40 football players had been accused of either sexual assault or “intimate partner” violence, and that to the best of her recollection, only one person had been found responsible. Winston won the Heisman Trophy and led the Seminoles to a national title during his college career, but he was often under the public microscope because of these allegations.

Winston was cleared of any wrongdoing by Florida State following a hearing, and a Florida prosecutor didn’t press criminal charges and said there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction. The New York Times filed public record requests for both Ashton and head coach Jimbo Fisher’s deposition transcripts, but the school sought to deny them. Ashton said the number of sexual battery cases was so much higher than the total that university reported because most of the encounters occurred off campus, and the federal Clery Act, which requires colleges to report sexual misconduct cases as part of its overall crime statistics, did not require that those off-campus cases be included. A Florida State spokeswoman said the school “could not confirm or deny Ashton’s figures because her ‘communication with victims is confidential,’” per Fineout.

The university finally did so today, handing over heavily redacted transcripts to the Times and AP, totally coincidentally late on the day before Thanksgiving. Fisher said in the deposition that around December 2012 and January 2013, around the time the allegation against Winston was first reported to police and initially investigated, that he was not aware of FSU’s policy about sexual battery. Ashton’s testimony further paints the picture of how Florida State fails to hold its football players accountable, and fails to protect its students. The alleged rape of Kinsman occured in December 2012, but it wasn’t until December 2013 that state attorney Willie Meggs announced that Winston wouldn’t be charged, bemoaning how poor of a job the Tallahassee cops investigating the case had done. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague” letter in April 2011 reminding schools of their responsibility under Title IX to investigate and adjudicate reports of sexual harassment and violence on their campuses. “I think it was nationwide — you know, the Dear Colleague letter was short.

The next month the retired Florida Supreme Court justice hearing the case found “that the evidence before me is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof,” and cleared Winston of any violation. Florida State, which has publicly stated that it did not violate any federal law, sought a protective order to block an open records request by The Times, but late Wednesday afternoon released heavily redacted depositions from Ms. Ashton or anyone, much less verified.” Ashton was also asked about Bonasorte, who she confirmed has served as an advisor for students accused of misconduct going through the student rights and responsibilities process. Asked her sense of Bonasorte’s reputation on campus, Ashton said, “I believe that he has a reputation that — he’s associated with athletes that are in trouble. Fisher testified that he subsequently passed on that information to Monk Bonasorte, an athletic department official whom he described as his superior.

In a joint motion to amend the schedule filed earlier this month, attorneys for Kinsman and FSU noted “the parties are also engaged in substantiative negotiations.” They were scheduled to participate in mediation on Tuesday.

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