A Fox Sports report charges Florida State University and the Tallahassee police with hamstringing the rape investigation into Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston.
In response to the exhaustive article, tight-lipped administrators spoke out on the case and notified the Heisman Trophy-winner of school disciplinary actions pending against him.
The investigative piece argues that Winston’s attorney obtained crucial documents regarding the investigation by way of Tallahassee’s police department sharing them with FSU’s police department. “The university’s police chief forwarded the reports to a high-ranking administrator in the Florida State athletic department,” Fox Sports maintains, “and within days they ultimately wound up in the hands of Winston’s defense attorney — also before [the prosecutor] was notified of the case and launched his own investigation.” This enabled Winston’s attorney to mount a defense before the prosecutor even knew there was a case.
Willie Meggs declined to pursue the case further last December.
The other major revelation depicts campus police as FSU public-relations flunkies, protecting and serving the school administration rather than the alleged victim. “The second-highest ranking officer in the campus police department ran interference with another reporter seeking information about the allegations,” Fox Sports claims, “terming them a ‘rumor’ that he was glad he could ‘dispel.'” All the while, the campus police knew full well of an investigation into Winston–just one conducted by another law-enforcement agency.
The lengthy piece shook FSU into breaking its silence.
Responding to what it terms a “continual drumbeat of misinformation,” FSU released a statement defending its actions. The document noted that the alleged incident occurred off campus, three witnesses, including the alleged perpetrator, label the encounter consensual, the school conducted a Title IX investigation, and the victim received services from the school.
The “open letter” doesn’t list a signatory. It does state in a header: “We listen. We learn. We care. Florida State does not tolerate sexual assault.”
To that end, the school informed Winston–on the very day that Fox Sports posted its damaging piece–that he faces as many as four violations of FSU’s code of conduct. The timing of publicly initiating code of conduct proceedings, like the publicized “open letter,” appears consistent with the Fox Sports article’s characterization of the school as obsessed with controlling negative stories.
“We did not want you to confuse our silence with idleness, a lack of caring or, as some have alleged, an institutional conspiracy to protect a star athlete,” FSU’s unsigned letter concludes. “We hope what we’ve shared with you establishes otherwise.”