TALLAHASSEE — An assistant state attorney says prosecutors in Tallahassee did not receive information about an 11-month-old sexual assault allegation involving Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston until Tuesday.
Tallahassee police investigated the Heisman Trophy contender in connection with a sexual assault that was reported nearly a year ago in an off-campus apartment. FSU records show the first report was made to campus police on Dec. 7 by a student at a dormitory. The investigation was handed over to Tallahassee police.
The case was not given to prosecutors until this week.
Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman says normal procedure for criminal cases in Leon County calls for police to give information to prosecutors if there is evidence for an arrest, or if it is a “close call.” She says police do not tell prosecutors when they have decided against pursuing an arrest.
A day after news of the case broke, jolting college football fans and casting uncertainty on second-ranked Florida State’s perfect season, there were mostly questions left unanswered.
Tallahassee police, citing the ongoing investigation, aren’t saying much about the case as well, including why investigators waited until this week to hand over information about the case to local prosecutors.
The Seminoles went back to work Thursday, preparing for a home game against Syracuse on Saturday.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said Winston took every scheduled practice snap and performed as usual Wednesday and Thursday. He also said nothing has changed Winston’s status as a team leader.
“He’s been great,” Fisher said. “He went out and practiced well, played well and eliminated clutter, from what I can understand as far as distractions.”
Fisher declined comment when asked directly about the investigation and would not divulge when he found out about the alleged incident. He did confirm that he spoke to the team about recent distractions.
“We talk about what’s going on, our task at hand and control what we can control,” Fisher said. “Success brings a lot of clutter from other things. There’s always things that go on and you have to separate on-the-field and off-the-field and what you can control. Our guys are doing a nice job of that.”
Fisher tried to avoid the topic, but the rest of the sports world has been focused on the Heisman Trophy candidate. Several questions remain.
Why did it take so long for the police to notify the state attorney?
How long has the university known and were any actions taken?
Did police request an interview with Winston?
For his part, Winston is only talking football. He spoke to the media for roughly five minutes on Wednesday night. University officials warned they would cut off the press conference if anyone asked questions that weren’t strictly related to football.
Timothy Jansen, the attorney representing Winston, has said his client did nothing wrong and he thought the investigation was over months ago. He said he has already handed over to prosecutors affidavits from two eyewitnesses.
“When I spoke to the detective in February he told me the case was closed,” Jansen said. “I relayed that to my client and to university officials. I hadn’t heard another word until Monday.”
Tallahassee police on Wednesday released a heavily-redacted two-page incident report that does not mention Winston by name, but says the incident took place between 1:30 and 2 a.m. last Dec. 7.
It describes the suspect in the sexual assault case as being between 5-foot-9 and 5-11. Winston is listed by Florida State at 6-4.
Jansen said he did not know why local police waited until this week to hand over their investigation to prosecutors. He speculated that media requests for the records may have played a role.
Rob Wilson, associate athletic director for communication, distributed a vague press release moments before Winston walked into his press conference. The press release indicated the university was aware of an investigation, confirmed there would be no change in Winston’s availability for Saturday’s game and stated that Fisher and Winston “will be answering questions about football only until there is a resolution.”
The media was warned, again, that Winston would be cut off and taken away if any non-football questions were asked.
Winston did answer a question about dealing with distractions.
“Just game-planning every week,” he said. “We prepare like there’s nothing else to lose. We’re preparing for Syracuse and they have a good defense. They gave up three points the last (two) games.
“We’re just coming in preparing and trying to do our job.”