‘Hunting Ground’ Director Slams College President Over Rape Documentary Criticism

“Rather than attack the messenger, President Thrasher should show leadership and focus on the problem that has existed on his campus for decades,” director Kirby Dick says

Kirby Dick, director of “The Hunting Ground,” a provocative new documentary exploring the college rape epidemic, has responded to criticism from Florida State University President John Thrasher regarding the film’s alleged lack of credibility.

“The university had months to respond to the letter we sent President Thrasher in which we wrote that our film would examine how FSU was dealing with issues they had encountered regarding sexual assault and asking how it was responding to the crisis,” Dick said in a statement to TheWrap. “Rather than attack the messenger, President Thrasher should show leadership and focus on the problem that has existed on his campus for decades.”

The film, which opened on Feb. 27, features interviews with Erica Kinsman, a student who had sought charges against Jameis Winston, the Seminole’s star quarterback, who she claimed had drugged and raped her. She went to the police, as the documentary shows, but prosecutors eventually declined to file charges against the accused student-athlete.

Thrasher disputed “The Hunting Ground’s” characterization of the case, however.

The film is “seriously lacking in credibility and presents a one-sided view of Florida State’s actions in the Jameis Winston case,” he wrote on Friday, in an statement titled “Florida State does not tolerate sexual assault” on FSU’s website. “The filmmakers interviewed Erica Kinsman, but no one representing Florida State. This provides the viewing public with an incomplete and erroneous view of what the University did to investigate Ms. Kinsman’s allegations.”

But Dick’s response to Thrasher’s “Hunting Ground” critique said the university waited until just before the film opened to issue any sort of response: “We didn’t get a response until last week — three days before our film opened in theaters and more than two months after we first sent the letter,” he wrote. “Worth noting, we kept the film open until February 19th in the hopes that President Thrasher and other presidents would come forward. It’s unfortunate because we would have welcomed including President Thrasher or another FSU official in the film.”

Dick, who has also directed “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” and “Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist,” to name a few, also pointed out that neither Winston nor his attorney responded his interview inquiries. The filmmaker also noted the scope of his investigation wasn’t limited to the Winston case, saying he interviewed several survivors whose tragic stories had similar disturbing themes: they were discouraged from reporting the alleged crime, they were treated insensitively by FSU officials and police and they were blamed for their own assault.

Read Dick’s full statement below:

“The university had months to respond to the letter we sent President Thrasher in which we wrote that our film would examine how FSU was dealing with issues they had encountered regarding sexual assault and asking how it was responding to the crisis.

This was a similar correspondence — in content and timing — that all colleges and universities featured in the film received. We didn’t get a response until last week – three days before our film opened in theaters and more than two months after we first sent the letter. Worth noting, we kept the film open until February 19th in the hopes that President Thrasher and other presidents would come forward. It’s unfortunate because we would have welcomed including President Thrasher or another FSU official in the film.

Beyond the university itself, we also contacted Jameis Winston’s attorney, the Tallahassee Police Department and Investigator Angulo. Representatives from the Tallahassee Police and Investigator Angulo declined to be interviewed. Neither Winston nor his attorney returned our multiple queries.

In addition, we interviewed a total of seven FSU sexual assault survivors whose stories contain common themes:

1) Discouragement from reporting

2) Insensitive treatment by FSU officials and police

3) Blame for their own assault

Rather than attack the messenger, President Thrasher should show leadership and focus on the problem that has existed on his campus for decades.”

Kirby Dick
Director, “The Hunting Ground”