Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lawyers seek access to Bucs', NFL's Winston investigations

As the Bucs prepared to select Jameis Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in last year's NFL draft, the team touted the hundreds of hours it spent investigating the former Florida State star.

What Tampa Bay found could soon become a part of a sexual assault lawsuit against its franchise quarterback.

An attorney for Zephyrhills' Erica Kinsman confirmed Thursday that her legal team subpoenaed the investigations by the Bucs and the NFL as part of the ongoing litigation between Kinsman and Winston.

"Both of those institutions said that they did intensive investigations into Mr. Winston and what happened," said John Clune, a Colorado-based attorney for Kinsman. "We want to know what they asked him and what exactly he said."

The subpoenas — two of many filed in the case — could reveal more than what Winston told the team and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell before the draft.

The Bucs interviewed more than 75 people — including people in Winston's hometown in Alabama and an assistant state attorney in Tallahassee — as they vetted the quarterback and weighed whether he should become their top pick.

"A lot isn't a big enough word" to describe the team's research, general manager Jason Licht said last spring.

Two weeks before the Bucs drafted Winston, Kinsman filed a civil suit against the Heisman Trophy winner, accusing him of sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and inflicting emotional distress during their December 2012 sexual encounter. Winston countersued Kinsman and alleged that her claims were false, defamed him and hurt his potential endorsement deals.

Winston, 22, has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence and was not charged after investigations by the State Attorney's Office and Florida State University.

Stetson University law professor Charles H. Rose III said the subpoenas could provide potential witnesses and insight into any possible inconsistencies in Winston's story — if the subpoenas are successful. Rose said any documents could be protected by a nondisclosure agreement, or the league and team could decline to provide them without an order from the court.

"I would be very surprised if they gave it up without a ruling from a judge," said Rose, the director for Stetson's Center for Excellence in Advocacy.

An NFL spokesman declined to comment.

"It is our organizational policy to refrain from public comment on pending or ongoing legal matters," said Nelson Luis, the Bucs' director of communications.

Thursday's news comes three days after Kinsman and FSU reached a $950,000 settlement in her Title IX lawsuit against the school.

That agreement does not affect the case between Winston and Kinsman. A mediation session is set for July 13, and a U.S. District Court trial is scheduled for March 2017 in Orlando.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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