Sep 24, 2014 6:59 PM
Settlement discussed in Winston case, no agreement
The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) There were discussions of a settlement earlier this year between representatives for Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and the woman who said he sexually assaulted her.
Attorneys for both sides strongly disagree, however, on the details of the talks and who initiated them.
David Cornwell, an attorney who advises the Winston family, said in a Sept. 23 letter to Florida State obtained by The Associated Press that the woman's former lawyer Patricia Carroll demanded $7 million in February to settle her potential claim against Winston, the university and the Tallahassee Police Department.
Baine Kerr, one of the lawyers for the woman, said in a statement emailed to the AP Wednesday that Cornwell sought the settlement. Kerr said it's "our understanding that (a) settlement was discussed, no authorized demands were made of Mr. Winston."
Winston was investigated by the Tallahassee Police Department and State Attorney Willie Meggs did not press charges due to a lack of evidence.
TMZ first reported the letter had been sent to Florida State.
Neither Cornwell nor Florida State immediately responded to requests for comment.
The statement released by Kerr said Cornwell "leaked to TMZ a self-serving letter" that he had sent to Florida State, adding that the letter was "full of dishonest and distorted statements at a time when Mr. Winston is suffering from the negative attention of his own continuing misconduct of last week."
Kerr said Cornwell threatened to sue the woman and her parents for "civil racketeering in an effort to intimidate them into staying quiet" after they declined to settle.
Cornwell's letter said, "Ms. Carroll stated, 'If we settle you will never hear from my client or me again - in the press or anywhere.'" The letter also said Carroll threatened to bring in "high profile" Colorado lawyers if Winston did not accept the offer. Kerr and his partner John Clune are based in Boulder.
Carroll released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that based on the response from Kerr and Clune, "there is no further need for me to comment, as it would be redundant. "
The 13-page Cornwell letter began by informing Florida State that Winston will participate and cooperate with an interview request from the university. It also noted Winston has "serious concerns" about the "false allegations" and the woman's "motivation." Cornwell wrote that Carroll "was banking on a favorable criminal investigation as a predicate to filing a civil case."
The letter also repeatedly states that the woman did not file a complaint with the school for more than two years, something her lawyers have denied numerous times. The statement from Kerr said the university did not contact the woman as part of its investigation until October 2013. Kerr has said his client was always willing to cooperate.
Winston "looks forward to clearing his name," Cornwell's letter stated. "But, Mr. Winston will not walk into a honey trap."
Florida State's Jimbo Fisher said Wednesday morning during an ACC coaches conference call that he had no previous knowledge of the letter, but had been told about the TMZ report.
The school is currently investigating Winston for a possible code of conduct violation involving the alleged sexual in December 2012. The Department of Education is investigating the university on how it handles reports of sexual assault after Winston's accuser filed a complaint.
Winston has been involved in several off-field transgressions.
He was suspended for the Clemson game last week for making "offensive and vulgar" comments about female anatomy on campus. Interim President Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox announced the decision after criticism that the original half-game suspension for Winston's latest embarrassing off-field incident was too light.
While playing for the Florida State baseball team, he was suspended for three games and completed 20 hours of community service after acknowledging he stole $32 worth of crab legs from a local grocery store in April. Before the football season, he said he had matured, learned what it takes to be a leader and understood that he needed to be more careful in his personal life.
Winston will no longer be made available to the media by Florida State except after games. The quarterback has held media sessions on Wednesdays since he was named the starter before the 2013 season.
Fisher said the decision to limit Winston's media availability "helps him focus on the things that are important right now, which are school, keep making good decisions in life and being a great football player and a great teammate."