Jameis Winston is being sued by his accuser in a civil action, alleging that the former Florida State quarterback raped her. Erica Kinsman is suing in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial District, with claims of sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and "intentional distress arising out of forcible rape," the Tampa Bay Times reports. Kinsman is seeking damages "exceeding $15,000," per Kevin Vaughan of Fox Sports. Matt Baker notes that that figure is standard legal language and we should not read too much into it.
A civil suit has long been expected, as Winston's accuser has used every avenue so far to attempt to get Winston convicted or otherwise punished. Winston has never been criminally charged, however, and was cleared of charges in a code of conduct hearing at Florida State, which was headed by a retired Florida Supreme Court justice. That justice, Major Harding, was ruling based on a standard of preponderance of the evidence, and his decision noted that he did "not find the credibility of one story substantially stronger than the other."
A statement released by John Clune, Kinsman's attorney, reads in part:
We know that quite often the public is quick to support the cause against sexual violence but at times can be slow to support the individual women who come forward. We hope that this case becomes a model for understanding what real sexual assault cases look like as well as the barriers that survivors face in coming forward. Perhaps more than anything, Erica hopes to show other survivors the strength and empowerment that can come from refusing to stay silent no matter what forces are against you.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are widely expected to take Winston with the number one overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, so this civil action could not come at a worse time for Winston. However, the Bucs will not let this affect their draft decision, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Whether that's because they believe this is not a big deal, or because they had already factored a civil suit into their decision is unknown.