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Reports: Florida State opens investigation of Jameis Winston

Aaron M. Sprecher/NFL
Jameis Winston led Florida State to a win over Oklahoma State in the season opener.

Florida State has opened a Title IX investigation into quarterback Jameis Winston, according to reports from USA Today and The New York Times.

Winston was allegedly involved in a sexual assault of a fellow student in 2012 and the attorney for Winston's accuser told USA Today and The Times that the school is proceeding with an investigation into the matter.

"They assured us that the Title IX process was going to move forward," attorney John Clune told USA Today. "The interview went pretty well. I think it was a positive experience, and everyone felt like the university was taking it very seriously."

Title IX requires universities to investigate complaints of sexual violence. The process is separate from any investigation undertaken by police and must be prosecuted regardless if law enforcement officials decline to press charges.


Winston's off-the-field incidents

Incident (Nov. 2012): Stopped at gunpoint
Winston detained by police at gunpoint, and investigated for damage at apartment complex from BB gun fight.

Incident (Dec. 2012): Sexual assault allegation
Winston was not charged with sexual assault after being under investigation in a case from Dec. 7, 2012.

Incident (April 2014): Shoplifting crab legs
Cited for shoplifting crab legs from a grocery store.

Incident (Sept. 2014): Obscene comments in public
Suspended for shouting vulgar remark in FSU's student union.

Incident (Oct. 2014): Report: Police obstructed probe
Investigation reveals that FSU and Tallahassee police hid sexual assault allegations.

Incident (Oct. 2014): FSU looks into autographs
Florida State investigating if Winston accepted money for autographs.

"There are some good people who want to do the right thing on one side of campus, then you have one of the most powerful athletic departments in the country on the other side of the campus with the No. 1 football team in the nation," Clune told The Times. "I think we will find out pretty quickly how that struggle will shake out."

A Florida State spokesperson issued a statement to USA Today that said the school could not discuss the case.

David Cornwell, an advisor to Winston's family, released the following statement on Thursday:

"The real story here is that after her Colorado attorneys created a media frenzy alleging that Florida State University failed to comply with its Title IX obligations, (the accuser) had to come clean and admit that she previously refused to cooperate with the university's Title IX inquiry.

"Now that she has finally done her Title IX interview, this is the fourth time (the accuser) has told her story. We anticipate the same conclusion that followed her previous three statements to the Tallahassee Police Department, Florida's State Attorney's Office and in the FSU Code of Student Conduct hearing. Jameis Winston did not sexually assault (the accuser)."

According to the timeline provided by Clune to USA Today, Winston's accuser was interviewed by school officials in early August -- several weeks before the Seminoles' season opener in Arlington, Texas. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights guidelines recommend that such Title IX investigations should take no longer than 60 days, so it's possible the investigation will linger well into the season.

Because the burden of proof in Title IX cases is lower than it is in criminal prosecutions, it's possible Winston could be suspended by the school despite no charges being filed against him in court. A similar matter is playing out at Oklahoma, where the school suspended linebacker Frank Shannon for a year after a Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault.

Ranked as the No. 1 team in the country, Florida State hosts The Citadel on Saturday.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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