Florida State officials and Tallahassee police obstructed the state's criminal investigation of an alleged sexual assault by Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, taking advantage of its knowledge of police reports before the state attorney was alerted, a FOX Sports investigation alleges.
According to the report, among other questionable actions, Winston's defense attorney was provided the police reports before State Attorney Willie Meggs was notified of the case. As well, two of Winston's teammates who were present when the assault allegedly happened were encouraged by Winston's attorney to sign affidavits supporting Winston before police had a chance to question them.
Meggs said Winston's attorney started "preparing a defense before we even know there's a case."
Winston was not charged in the case, but local police and the school administrators have come under intense scrutiny about alleged inappropriate actions in handling the case. The school is now under a federal investigation to determine whether its actions in the case met the standards of the Title IX gender-equity law.
Winston has maintained his innocence and Florida State issued a letter earlier Friday defending its handling of the Winston investigation.
"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 read.
An attorney for the accuser in the case blasted the letter, calling it "a little preventative damage control."
Winston won the Heisman Trophy and a national championship as a redshirt freshman last season, but his character has come under fire in the last year, beginning with the sexual assault case. Since then a string of embarrassing incidents have followed the third-year sophomore, the most recent of which -- yelling a vulgar phrase while in the FSU student union -- drew a one-game suspension.
Winston will lead the top-ranked Seminoles (5-0) Saturday at Syracuse.