(NEW YORK) — The woman who accused football star Jameis Winston of rape is speaking out in a new film.
Erica Kinsman shared her story in The Hunting Ground, which filmmakers say seeks to expose the epidemic of violence and institutional cover-ups sweeping college campuses across America.
According to Kinsman, the alleged incident occurred at Winston’s off-campus apartment on Dec. 7, 2012 following a night of drinking. At the time, she was a student at Florida State University, and Winston was the university’s superstar quarterback.
“I just want to know, ‘Why me?’” she said in the film, which is appearing in theaters starting Friday. “It doesn’t really make sense.”
Kinsman told filmmakers Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick that when she identified her alleged rapist, she was told by the lead detective, “This is a huge football town. You really should think long and hard about whether you want to press charges or not.”
While the Tallahassee Police’s handling of the case has been criticized, no charges were filed in the case, with Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs citing insufficient evidence. Winston — who has maintained that the encounter was consensual — was also cleared in a university code of conduct hearing.
Winston is slated to be one of the top picks in this year’s NFL Draft.
Ziering contends that Florida State University’s desire to protect its reputation, and the athlete involved, contributed to how the case was handled.
“Here’s a family that really believed in law enforcement, really believed in their school, in their institution, could not imagine it would not do the right thing by them,” Ziering said.
Kinsman eventually left the university. The filmmakers noted Kinsman faced backlash after coming forward.
“The reprisals she experienced…she received all kinds of very aggressive comments on social media,” Dick said.
A university official told ABC News FSU was not aware Kinsman ever said she felt driven out of the university, adding that university officials “went to extraordinary lengths to support her.”
“FSU uses a nationally recognized victim-centered approach in handling sexual assault complaints, and our victim advocate professionals were by Ms. Kinsman’s side throughout this case,” said Browning Brooks, assistant vice president for university communications. “She was provided academic accommodations regarding class schedules and exams, access to counseling and was informed about all of her options in deciding whether to initiate criminal or student conduct charges under Title IX.”
The filmmakers are thankful that the subjects in The Hunting Ground agreed to participate in the movie, and believe that the victims’ voices can help people to consider the significance of college sexual assaults.
“I hope it radically changes the way our culture and our country views this issue and views these crimes,” Ziering said.
The Hunting Ground, which was shown at Sundance Film Festival, features a Lady Gaga song with Diane Warren, “Til It Happens to You.”
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