Florida State University will pay former student Erica Kinsman $250,000 and her attorneys $700,000 in a settlement of a lawsuit Ms. Kinsman brought against the school for failing to respond when she accused former star quarterback, Jameis Winston, of rape.
As part of the settlement, FSU has committed to establishing programs for the next five years to deal with sexual assault awareness and prevention on campus and to publish annual reports about those programs, attorneys for Kinsman said in a statement.
University President John Thrasher says the school is settling to avoid spending millions on the lawsuit.
"Although we regret we will never be able to tell our full story in court, it is apparent that a trial many months from now would have left FSU fighting over the past rather than looking toward its very bright future," Mr. Thrasher said in a statement.
Universities are under increasing pressure from students, parents, and the federal government to change their policies and otherwise respond to growing concerns of a culture of rape on college campuses.
The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights launched a campaign a couple of years ago to reduce sexual violence on college campuses. As part of that campaign it published a first-of-its kind list in May 2014 of all higher education institutions that were under investigation for possibly violating civil rights law in their handling of complaints of sexual violence and harassment.
Shortly after it was published, the DOE expanded the list to included 86 active investigations at schools such as Harvard College, Michigan State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Princeton University.
“We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said in a statement at the time.
Increased scrutiny has led many colleges to update their policies related to sexual violence.
Antioch College in Ohio, for example, established one of the strictest policies on consent, requiring that students agree verbally to every stage of a sexual encounter. California passed a bill in 2014 requiring students at state colleges and universities to consciously and unambiguously agree to engage in sexual activity.
Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., revised its sexual assault policies, including one that requires the school to engage an independent investigator to examine complaints.
As far as Kinsman and FSU, she has a separate lawsuit pending against Mr. Winston. She claims that she was drunk at a Tallahassee bar in December 2012 when Winston and others took her to an apartment where the the quarterback raped her, she says.
Winston denies the allegations, claiming that the sex was consensual. Prosecutors said there wasn't enough evidence to win a criminal conviction and that there were gaps in Kinsman's story.
"My hope is that the federal investigation of my complaint by the Office of Civil Rights will produce even more positive change, not just at FSU, but across the country," said Kinsman, who has told her story publicly in a documentary.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.