Story of Jameis Winston's accuser to be told in documentary

At the NFL Scouting Combine last week in Indianapolis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht both expressed cautious optimism that the team's background checks on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston would come back satisfactory. But both were also clear that their dig into the former Heisman Trophy winner wasn't yet complete.

And it likely won't be without a look at a documentary set for release in select theaters this week.

The Hunting Ground, a film about sexual assault on college campuses, includes a detailed account from the woman who accused Winston of sexual assault in December 2012. The movie premieres in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.

"We're grateful it's the first time people will get to hear (her) story," director Kirby Dick told Sports Illustrated. "It's her first-hand testimony. Up to this point it hasn't been in a public space."

Winston wasn't charged with a crime in the incident, although doubts have been cast about the quality of the police investigation. The state attorney's office wasn't notified of the allegation until 11 months after the incident, and state attorney Willie Meggs concedes in the film that he believes something "bad" happened at Winston's apartment, but that insufficient proof prevented a prosecution. Winston was also the subject of a school code of conduct hearing regarding the allegation, but wasn't charged in that instance, either.

According to the Sports Illustrated story, the film will be in theaters nationwide by the time the Buccaneers turn in their card for the first pick of the draft. If Winston's name is on it, the club will be staking its future on not only his football ability but his character, as well.

The Hunting Ground should provide the public with some of the same insight into Winston that the Bucs and other NFL clubs use in their final evaluation of the draft's most polarizing figure.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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