In an open letter, Florida State officials said they were trying
to protect students.
"We did not want you to confuse our silence with idleness, a lack of
caring or, as some have alleged, an institutional conspiracy to
protect a star athlete," the university wrote.
The explanation comes as the National Football League faces scrutiny
for its handling of players' actions against women.
In a separate case involving another top state quarterback, the
University of Florida's Treon Harris, a woman withdrew accusations
of sexual assault, his attorney, Huntley Johnson, said on Friday.
The withdrawal came a day after the lawyer accused the woman of
being the sexual aggressor.
In its letter, Florida State did not name Winston, identified as "a
prominent athlete," but detailed a widely reported timeline
beginning with allegations that he assaulted a woman in December
Florida State in Tallahassee turned the report about the off-campus
incident over to local law enforcement.
Athletics officials learned about the accusations in January 2013,
after the woman identified Winston as her assailant. They determined
the encounter was consensual after interviewing two other athletes
present, the letter stated.
Athletics officials, informed that police were no longer
investigating, did not file a report to the university office
charged with investigating reports of sexual violence under federal
law. That office did not learn about the case until November 2013
following media inquiries to police, the university wrote.
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A Florida State investigation under federal law initially found not
enough evidence to proceed.
In December, a Florida state attorney determined there was
insufficient evidence to bring sexual assault charges.
In April, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights
launched an investigation into Florida State's handling of the case.
University officials said that in August, after months of requests,
they interviewed the female accuser. Subsequently, Florida State
reopened its investigation under federal law. Winston is
Attorneys for the woman said Florida State's timeline had errors and
accused the university of breaking laws to protect its football
An attorney advising Winston said the new facts support his
contention the allegations are false.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Jim Loney)
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