Oct 14, 2014 3:58 PM
Winston adviser wants explanation for late hearing
The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) The adviser for the family of Jameis Winston has asked Florida State why it has chosen now to engage in the Title IX process and accuses the school of trying to protect its own interests and responding to media pressure, according to a letter obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.
Florida State announced last week it will use an independent official in a student code of conduct hearing. A female student said Winston sexually assaulted her in December 2012.
Attorney David Cornwell notes in a letter that university and federal policy requires a timely investigation. He asks university officials why Florida State has ignored those guidelines and writes that Winston deserves a prompt explanation.
Winston was never arrested and Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs declined to press charges against Winston last December due to a lack of evidence.
The AP does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse.
No date has been set for the university hearing. Florida State has notified Winston that the hearing will be held to be determined if four sections of the code of conduct have been violated, two for sexual misconduct, two for endangerment. The quarterback has five class days from last Friday to respond to the university.
Florida State spokeswoman Browning Brooks Tuesday declined comment beyond what the university released in its timeline last week. However, she referred to two passages in the release that she said explains the delay in which Cornwell is inquiring about.
In the release, Florida State said the athletic department did not file a report with the Title IX administrator or Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities after Winston and two other student-athletes that were present said the sex was consensual. The decision was based on that and the Tallahassee Police Department's decision not to press charges in January 2013.
The university also said because the Victims Advocate Program continued to have "confidential interactions" with the woman for months, they were "duty-bound not to share any of the information with FSU Title IX officials."
The university stated that the woman was not made available for an interview with the school until Aug. 6, 2014. The woman's lawyers have maintained that she was willing to talk throughout the process.
Baine P. Kerr, one of the woman's attorneys, released a statement on behalf of his client Friday in response to Florida State's timeline. He said the university was "trying to do a little preventative damage control" and said the university's timeline was full of errors.
In its release, Florida State said that the only people aware of the incident before January 2013 were Tallahassee police, campus police and the Victims Advocate Program. The program is not required to share information with school officials as a way to help victims. Florida State said its Title IX officials didn't become aware of the incident until November 2013, when contacted by the Tallahassee Police Department.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has said recent media reports about the investigation haven't revealed any new facts. He doesn't expect the reigning Heisman winner to miss any games this season due to this case.
"This country is based off being innocent until proven guilty, not guilty till you're proven innocent," Fisher said. "There is no victim because there was no crime."