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FSU announces settlement in Erica Kinsman matter

Florida State University President John Thrasher today announced that the University has reached a settlement with former student Erica Kinsman, who has agreed to drop her Title IX lawsuit against FSU.

“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. We have decided to instead move forward even though we have full faith that the ultimate outcome of a trial would have been consistent with the previous law enforcement investigations and retired Supreme Court Justice Major Harding’s findings in the student conduct hearing,” Thrasher said.

Under terms of the settlement, Kinsman is expected to receive $250,000 while her attorneys will get more than twice that amount — $700,000.

Noting that legal settlements are made for a variety of reasons, Thrasher said FSU’s overriding reason for entering into the agreement with Kinsman was to avoid what was sure to be millions of dollars in additional litigation expense.

“We have an obligation to our students, their parents and Florida taxpayers to deal with this case, as we do all litigation, in a financially responsible manner,” Thrasher said. “With all the economic demands we face, at some point it doesn’t make sense to continue even though we are convinced we would have prevailed.”

Thrasher said that, contrary to the rampant misinformation and speculation surrounding this case, FSU “remains committed to making our campus safe for all students and our school free of sexual harassment and sexual assault. As I’ve said before, one sexual assault against or committed by an FSU student is one too many.”

Thrasher listed many of the efforts that FSU has made since 2013 to bolster its response to sexual assaults. They include:

  • Forming a Sexual Assault Prevention Task Group responsible for initiating educational campaigns to prevent sexual misconduct. This resulted in the creation of the University’s kNOw more campaign prominently featuring a public website that serves as a one-stop resource for online reporting of sexual assaults as well as an informational resource.
  • Hiring Jennifer Broomfield, a highly qualified expert in interpersonal violence, to serve as full-time Title IX Coordinator. Ms. Broomfield, who is both a social worker and an attorney, has extensive training in trauma-informed investigations. She has already redesigned the Title IX website and conducted a number of sexual assault prevention trainings, including sessions for students, faculty, staff, head coaches, Athletics Department administrators, and student-athletes.
  • Publishing a comprehensive Victims’ Rights and Resources handbook informing all student of the wide range of available services.
  • Adding six new positions relating to on-campus safety: Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, a Health Promotion Assistant Director, three Student Conduct staff members, an additional caseworker in the Dean of Students office, and a Title IX Coordinator investigator.
  • Requiring all in-coming freshmen to complete an online course “Think About It” to help them make more informed choices about sex and relationships.
  • Reestablishing the male peer group Men Advocating for Responsible Conduct (MARC) and establishing a co-ed counterpart, NOLE More.
  • Providing Green Dot bystander intervention training sessions to students.

“Since April 2014, there have been more than 100 training sessions conducted on the FSU campus about dealing with sexual assault and how to prevent it,” Thrasher said. “In this time, we have increased our institutional commitment to tackle this complex problem. There should be no doubt that Florida State is serious about fighting sexual assault.”