The average sports fan knows there's shadiness going on behind the scenes in college football. They may not know what, but they do know it's shady. Still, there is at least a small shock when something gets exposed. This time, it's about Jameis Winston and the sexual assault case.
Fox Sports published an investigative report that shows how Florida State University and Tallahassee police took steps to hinder the criminal investigation. This isn't just bad at a moral level; the university can be a target of a federal investigation because of the Title IX gender equity-law and series of sanctions because of the administrators involvement in the case. Fox Sports' conclusions come after looking over thousands of pages of legal documents, e-mails, and interview transcripts.
There's plenty to unpack from this report, but here are some of the more egregious violations that stand out:
- On Nov. 8, 2013, the university police chief turned reports of the incident to the Tallahassee force because the alleged crime took place off-campus—outside its jurisdiction. The police force got the report four days before Attorney Willie Meggs, who handles serious crimes like this, got the case. High-ranking school administrators and Winston's defense attorney also got a hold of the report before Meggs got it.
- Teammates Chris Casher and Ronald Darby were witnesses who maintained that what happened between Winston and the victim was consensual. They spoke over the case with Winston's lawyer and signed affadavits. This and the previous point are detrimental because it unfairly gives Winston's defense a head start over the prosecution.
- The police shelved the sexual assault complaint (originally filed in Dec. 7, 2012) in Feb. 2013, alleging that the woman was uncooperative. The victim's defense says this is false.
- The police probably would've sat on the report if journalists didn't come after it. A Tampa Bay Times reporter asked for it on Nov. 8, 2013. In response, a records clerk started a e-mail chain with the report attached that ended up in the inbox of Monk Bonasorte, senior associate athletic director for internal operations. He's repeatedly got involved when FSU athletes got into legal trouble. Instead of simply giving the reporter the report, the defense tried to find out more information about the reporter.
- TMZ came knocking four days later. Maj. Jim Russell of the Florida State police came pretty close to lying as he wrote off any word of an FSUPD investigation as a rumor: "I can advise you that Jameis Winston is not under any investigation by the FSUPD, nor has he been questioned regarding any criminal case by the FSUPD." So why is this not a lie? Winston was being investigated by the Tallahassee police, not the FSUPD. Meggs found out about the allegation the next day.
- The tidbit that ends the report speaks for itself:
Nov. 15, 2013, Jeanette M. DeDiemar, associate vice president for integrated marketing and communications, summoned a number of people to a meeting to discuss the case.
Among those asked to be there were FSU campus police chief Perry and deputy chief Russell; Mary Coburn, the vice president for student affairs, and her husband, David Coburn, a college roommate of then-FSU President Eric Barron and a principal in the legislative consulting firm Capital Analytics; Carolyn Egan, general counsel to the university; Bonasorte; and media and communications specialists from both the athletic department and the administration.
The agenda was simple: "Get around the table to 1) be brought up to date regarding case and 2) review media relations, social media and communications needs for the next 72 hours."
Interestingly enough, Florida State just published a timeline outlining the investigation. It's factual, but you can't help but think, "damage control."
[via FOX Sports]