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 was scheduled to meet with the media after practice Thursday evening
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. The Tampa Bay Times reported Thursday it had asked for records last week.
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 coach Jimbo 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."
Fisher held his live radio show at the Four Points by Sheraton in Tallahassee on Wednesday evening and did not address the incident or the investigation. He does not normally field questions afterward, but was quickly ushered out a side door away from media members.