The attorney representing Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston had access to documents related to an investigation of an alleged rape linked to Winston days before the state attorney’s office had access to the information. As outlined in a detailed report by FOX Sports, officials at Florida State and the Tallahassee police department took steps to hinder the proceedings of the investigation that would eventually clear Winston of any wrongdoing.
According to documents acquired by FOX Sports, the university police chief obtained documents from the original police reports and from the Tallahassee police in November, 2013. This happened at least four days before the documents were turned over to Florida state attorney Willie Meggs. The chief then proceeded to forward the documents to members of Florida State’s athletics department. This evidence soon was handed over to Winston’s attorney, which allowed the defense team to get a head start on the investigation to come before Meggs was even aware of the need for an investigation.
As reported, Winston’s attorney was also given a chance to interview two of Winston’s teammates about the incident in question and have them sign affidavits to support Winston’s story. This occurred before authorities had a chance to investigate either player. Without the testimony from the two teammates, the chances a state prosecutor could gather enough evidence to make a case to charge Winston was essentially washed out.
Earlier on Friday Florida State released a detailed letter outlining its timeline in the handling of the Winston investigation. The attorney representing the accuser called it an effort to do some damage control. The school is being investigated for possible violations of Title IX, and with this new information made available through this investigative report, there will be some questions that need to be addressed.
Florida State must prove there was no reason to alert authorities about a possible rape involving one of its students. Florida State would not be in violation of Title IX if it is ruled the school had no real evidence a crime had been committed or no knowledge of the incident was on record. These documents obtained by FOX Sports may put that in a spotlight.
But there is still room for interpretation in the report. Although there is a paper trail between officials, it still lacks concrete evidence Florida State conspired to absolve Winston of any crime. Winston was cleared of any wrongdoing last November. He went on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Florida State to an ACC championship and BCS national championship.
It is also worth noting the New York Times is expected to be working on and releasing its own investigative report on the Winston story.
UPDATE (9:55 p.m. ET): That report from the New York Times has now been published.