New York Times report shows new details in Winston investigation

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer

Police efforts to interview Jameis Winston have been criticized. (USATSI)
Police efforts to interview Jameis Winston have been criticized. (USATSI)
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The New York Times published an exhaustive review of the Jameis Winston rape investigation Wednesday, one that provides a handful of new details about the case and casts new doubts on both Tallahassee police's and Florida State's responses to the accusation against Winston.

Per the report, the university was aware of the complaint against Winston as early as January 2013, when a police email obtained by the Times shows that an officer “received a call from the Athletic Directors Assistant inquiring about the case.”

According to federal Title IX guidelines, any athletic department official who is aware of a sexual assault allegation is required to pass that knowledge to administrators, and any school aware of such an allegation is required to perform its own investigation. (The same principle has been at issue in Missouri's handling of the Sasha Menu Courey case.)

Florida State did not provide comment to the Times on when administrators became aware of the accusation against Winston. School officials did not speak to Winston concerning the allegations until January 2014, following the Seminoles' BCS championship season.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is investigating Florida State's handling of the case to determine if the Title IX guidelines were followed.

Florida State responded to the Times' story Wednesday.

"The university expresses its deep disappointment in today's New York Times story alleging FSU officials did not properly investigate a rape allegation against Jameis Winston 'in apparent violation of federal law,'" said the school's release. "It also vigorously objects to the newspaper's characterization of the university as being uncooperative in explaining its actions.

"The university provided the newspaper with a general statement and numerous written answers over a period of weeks. Most of the responses were left out of the story, giving readers an incorrect impression of the university's efforts on behalf of sexual assault victims under Title IX."

The rest of the statement includes the original statement Florida State made to the paper, as well as points the school says the Times "downplayed" in its story.

The Times report also questions the investigative effort of the Tallahassee Police Department. Among the new details provided is that lead investigator Scott Angulo -- who the accuser's family said warned her against reporting the incident and who the Times reports had performed "private security work" for the Seminole Boosters organization -- made no attempt to recover video footage from the bar where the accuser and Winston had been drinking, did not interview cab drivers who had worked that night, and did not make an initial effort to locate "Chris," the football player mentioned in the accuser's initial report to police.

"Chris" would prove to be Chris Casher, Winston's roommate and teammate, who was not interviewed until the case was handed over to prosecutors in November of last year. From the Times' account of the interview:

Mr. Casher made a startling admission: he had secretly videotaped part of the sexual encounter through the partly opened bedroom door, and deleted the video from his phone a couple of days later. Had the police found him quickly, they might have obtained that video.

Mr. Casher had never mentioned the video in the [earlier] affidavit he submitted with the help of Mr. Winston's lawyer. Even so, officers did not ask why he had omitted that important fact, why he had deleted the video or whether he had shared it with anyone. And though Mr. Casher said he had a new phone, the officers did not ask what he did with the old one.

Casher and third teammate Ronald Darby, also present the night of the incident, have been cited by FSU for student conduct code violations.

The Times also reported that through the FSU victim's advocate, prosecutors became aware of a second woman who had sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Winston. The woman did not claim any crime had been committed, but Georgia Cappleman, chief assistant state attorney, told the Times the encounter “was of such a nature that she felt violated or felt that she needed to seek some type of counseling for her emotions about the experience."

David Cornwell, a Winston attorney, called Cappleman's comments "out of bounds" and said “I'm not interested in a prosecutor expressing an opinion based on a personal moral compass.”

State attorney Willie Meggs repeatedly questioned the Tallahassee police's efforts in the investigation in the report, criticizing both the failure to interview Casher in a timely manner and making first contact with Winston over the phone. Meggs announced in December of last year that his office's investigation into the accusations against Winston would not result in charges.

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