Report: FSU begins investigation

— -- Florida State University is conducting its required investigation into quarterback Jameis Winston in relation to the alleged 2012 rape of a female student, according to a USA Today report.

An attorney representing Winston's accuser told USA Today that FSU is following through with its Title IX investigation and that school officials interviewed the woman for the first time in early August. She initially reported the alleged rape to police in December 2012.

"The interview went pretty well," John Clune, the woman's attorney, told USA Today. "I think it was a positive experience, and everyone felt like the university was taking it very seriously."

The school also interviewed two other people, Clune told USA Today, but Clune does not know if Winston was interviewed.

Title IX mandates schools investigate and adjudicate sexual harassment and violence cases separate of any criminal investigation, and should not wait for any criminal investigation to conclude.

The state attorney's office began investigating Winston in November 2013, but no charges were filed because of insufficient evidence.

Willie Meggs, the state attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit, whose office declined to pursue criminal charges against Winston in December, said he wasn't aware of any new evidence in the case.

"My understanding is what they're looking at is much different from what we were looking at," Meggs said. "The standards for criminal charges and student conduct are different animals."

Meggs said he was surprised FSU officials took so long to investigate the woman's claims.

FSU's ruling will be based on a "preponderance of evidence" -- a standard set forth in the "Dear Colleague" letter from the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights.

Two of Winston's teammates, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, faced school code of conduct charges this summer. Only Casher, who told police he recorded the alleged incident on his phone but later deleted it, was found responsible and received a year of probation, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Clune told USA Today he expects the university to charge Winston with violating the school's conduct policy.

"There's no basis not to bring those charges now," Clune told USA Today.

Florida State spokeswoman Browning Brooks declined comment on the specific investigation, citing federal privacy laws, when contacted by USA Today.

"While we cannot comment on any individual case, in general, complainants control the timing in our process," she said.

Title IX suggests a school's investigation into any report of sexual misconduct should be completed within 60 days, but Florida State did not meet with Winston until January 2014, which was more than a year after the alleged assault.

Winston won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman and led the Seminoles to their first national championship since 1999.

Baine Kerr, another Title IX attorney representing the woman, told USA Today in April that FSU had suspended its investigation into Winston partly because Winston refused to cooperate.

Clune told USA Today it is "unfortunate" the university's investigation took so long to begin and after the woman already left Florida State, but he is "encouraged that they seem to be taking this seriously, and she'll certainly help with whatever they need."

Florida State is currently ranked No. 1 in both polls after starting its season with a 37-31 win against Oklahoma State.

Clune told USA Today he feels the football team's success has caused a "power struggle" within the university.

"I think the issue is there are definitely some people at this university that really want to do the right thing and want to comply with the law," Clune told USA Today. "But it seems like there's a power struggle between those folks and people that would be just fine to just see this go away.

"We're dealing with one of the most powerful athletic departments in the country with the No. 1 football team in the nation, and I think we'll know very shortly how much control that athletic department has."

Winston did not talk with the Tallahassee Police Department or the state attorney's office during the criminal investigation. He said, through his attorney, that the sex was consensual.

Information from's Mark Schlabach was used in this report.