(AP) Interview pending with alleged Winston victim
By KELLI KENNEDY AND KAREEM COPELAND
Prosecutors are setting up an interview with the victim in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault tied to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston that was reported nearly a year ago. They expect to close the investigation in a few weeks.
Many questions are still unanswered, especially why Tallahassee police waited until this week to turn the case over to prosecutors. State Attorney Willie Meggs said Saturday he didn’t know why his office wasn’t given any information even though university records show the first report was made to campus police on Dec. 7 by a student at a dormitory.
Prosecutors said it’s difficult to piece together a case and interview witnesses nearly a year later.
“There’s nothing like being fresh on a case and walking in and saying, `what happened last night,'” Meggs said. “Now they’ve been talking to lawyers, they’ve been talking to each other and getting their stories together. … People have had 11 months to decide what they’re going to say.”
The alleged victim has since moved out of state and prosecutors are arranging an interview with her, said Meggs. He is concerned that media attention has focused primarily on Winston, a Heisman Trophy contender.
“There is a victim out there right now whose world has tumbled down around her,” he said.
“We have a female victim here, too, and my job is to make sure that this victim or any victim of a crime has their rights protected. … Everything is now focused on Winston and what’s going to happen to him.”
Winton’s attorney, Timothy Jansen, said Saturday he’s given officials two affidavits from eye witnesses that will “completely exonerate my client.” He’s repeatedly said his client did nothing wrong and he thought the investigation was over months ago.
The investigation jolted college football fans, casting uncertainty on second-ranked Florida State’s perfect season. Winston is to lead the Seminoles at home Saturday against Syracuse.
Coach Jimbo Fisher has declined to comment about the investigation and would not divulge when he learned about it. He did confirm that he spoke to the team about recent distractions, saying Winston practiced well all week and his status as a team leader has not diminished. Winston has not commented publicly on the investigation.
Winston and the Seminoles got back to the field Saturday and it was business as usual. Florida State beat Syracuse 59-3 at home.
“We prepare ourselves the same way every single week. One thing about Florida State, we’re a big family. So we stay inside the family,” Winston said after throwing two touchdown passes in the easy victory.
Tallahassee police, citing the investigation, have also been largely silent about the case as well, including why investigators waited until this week to hand over information about the case to prosecutors.
Earlier this week, Tallahassee police released a heavily redacted two-page incident report that does not mention Winston by name, but says what happened took place between 1:30 and 2 a.m. last December.
It describes the suspect in the sexual assault case as being between 5-foot-9 and 5-11. Winston is listed by Florida State at 6-4.