Saturday, April 21, 2018
Colleges

FSU's Fisher: Winston keeps focus on field

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is not letting outside distractions affect him on the field, coach Jimbo Fisher said a day after reports surfaced that the Heisman Trophy candidate is being investigated in connection with a sexual assault complaint that occurred last year.

"He's been great," Fisher said. "He went out (Thursday), practiced well, played well, and eliminated the clutter."

Fisher responded "no comment" when questioned about the open investigation, citing FSU's decision barring players and coaches from discussing it.

FSU records show the first report was made to campus police on Dec. 7 by a student. The investigation was handed over to the Tallahassee Police Department because the alleged attack took place off campus.

The case was not given to prosecutors until this week.

The Tallahassee police report was heavily redacted and does not mention Winston by name. The physical description did not match Winston, either.

Tim Jansen, Winston's attorney, said the redshirt freshman denied being involved in the assault and never was questioned by police. Jansen said police told him in February the case was closed, so he was surprised it was referred to the State Attorney's Office.

Two witnesses who were with Winston, 19, when the alleged assault occurred will corroborate his account of the event, Jansen told ESPN on Thursday. Jansen said he provided police with affidavits from two witnesses earlier this week, and he said at least one of those witnesses has already been interviewed by police and another is in the process of being interviewed.

David Northway, a spokesman for the Tallahassee police, would neither confirm nor deny that any interviews had taken place.

Winston has exercised his right not to speak to police or provide a statement to them in the investigation, ESPN reported. Asked if Winston was prepared to cooperate with police, Jansen said, "We'll cooperate as much as we can."

State Attorney Willie Meggs told the Tallahassee Democrat his office first learned of the case Wednesday and a representative from his office said a weeks-long time frame for investigating the allegations was "probably realistic." Chief assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman said her office has been in communication with the complainant and her aunt, an attorney who is representing her in the case.

Cappleman said 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 said police do not tell prosecutors when they have decided against pursuing an arrest.

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 No. 2 Seminoles (9-0, 7-0 ACC) host Syracuse on Saturday, and Fisher had said there is no change in Winston's status as a starter and team leader.

Fisher said Monday that he and Winston met during the weekend to discuss "little things for the week" and how to handle the hype surrounding him as his national profile grew.

"He's (doing a) very good job of keeping things in perspective," Fisher said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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