NFL star Jameis Winston made it clear on Saturday that he will sue if CNN goes ahead with their plans of airing ‘Hunting Ground’ documentary which focuses on rape on college campuses and strongly examines Winston’s case. Winston was previously accused of rape by Erica Kinsman during Winston’s Heisman Trophy season. FSU and local police conducted an investigation but took no action against the star quarterback. As Kinsman and Winston duel with each other in court — she’s suing him for sexual battery, he’s brought counterclaims for tarnishing his image — The Hunting Ground has lurked in the background after premiering at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
Directed by Kirby Dirk and produced by Amy Ziering, Hunting Ground spotlights Kinsman coming forward to speak publicly for the first time about what Winston allegedly did to her, as well as the ensuing investigations. At Sundance, the film was warmly received, but it’s since been attacked as unfair in some circles. Winston’s letter claims the film “manipulates and simply omits facts to present a false narrative,” and the filmmakers omitted exculpatory evidence such as toxicology reports, medical examinations and eyewitness testimony. FSU has also issued their own complaints and even asked CNN to not air the film. Along with FSU, Harvard law professors have also asked CNN not to air the documentary. However, Winston’s attorney’s letter takes it even farther.
CNN may have persuaded itself that Mr. Winston’s status as a public figure insulates your company from a libel judgment,” “If CNN decides to proceed with this broadcast, we will perhaps have the opportunity to test that legal proposition in a court of law.”
Hunting Ground filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering released a statement defending Winston’s accuser’s acount.
We fully stand behind Erica Kinsman’s account, and the accounts of all the subjects in our film. When documentaries bring to light uncomfortable truths about powerful people and institutions, it’s not unusual for them to wage aggressive campaigns to silence their critics. That’s what we’re seeing now. We invite viewers to watch the documentary and draw their own conclusions.”
The film is about the crisis as a whole, not just Winston’s case, but his is particularly telling of the power structures in play, so it naturally gets attention. The documentary initially aired at Sundance in January before a brief theatrical run. FSU President John Thrasher also issued a statement in which he declined to attend a CNN panel discussing the film and defending the university. Both Kinsman and Winston have filed lawsuits against the other. Winston was never charged by police and was cleared by Florida State after a student code of conduct hearing. He is currently starting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after being selected No. 1 overall this year iun the NFL draft.