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Accuser's attorney slams FSU defense of Jameis Winston probe

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Steve Cannon/Associated Press
Jameis Winston is 18-0 as Florida State's starting quarterback.

Florida State sent a letter Friday morning to supporters defending the way it handled a sexual assault investigation of what it termed "a prominent athlete."


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.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, the university said it was releasing the series of events that have transpired since the incident in December 2012 involving quarterback Jameis Winston because of "misinformation in the media."

The release comes a few days after Florida suspended quarterback Treon Harris, who is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault. Florida's handling of the Harris situation has been contrasted to FSU's handling of the Winston case -- Winston never was suspended. The letter never mentions Winston by name.

An attorney for Winston's accuser blasted FSU's letter Friday.

"Florida State knows that there is a big story about to break from the NY Times and their PR team is trying to do a little preventative damage control," attorney John Clune wrote in a statement, per the Orlando Sentinel. "The obvious news in this statement is that senior athletic department officials met with Winston and his lawyer one month after the rape occurred then decided to hide it from the Title IX office.

"The statement's timeline is full of errors but it shows that we can add both (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and the victim-advocate privilege to the list of laws Florida State is willing to break to protect this football program. What else can the school do wrong in this mess? The whole country is moving toward improving the response to campus rape while Florida State still backpedals the other way."

FSU said the only people aware of the incident before January 2013 were Tallahassee police, campus police and the Victims Advocate Program. The university said its Title IX officials did not become aware of the incident until November 2013, when contacted by the Tallahassee Police Department. State Attorney Willie Meggs announced in December 2013 that he would not press charges.

"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," the letter said.

The letter said Winston declined to speak with FSU's Title IX office in January 2014; the accuser also refused to speak to the office. The letter said that because neither the woman nor Winston cooperated, the school suspended the investigation a month later. The accuser then spoke with university investigators Aug. 6 about the encounter, the letter said.

Through his attorneys, Winston has denied any wrongdoing. FSU is continuing a Title IX investigation into whether he broke the school's code of conduct.

Winston and the Seminoles play at Syracuse on Saturday, then play host to Notre Dame on Oct. 18 in what has become one of the season's biggest games.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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