FSU's Winston to learn result of investigation Thursday

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is expected to learn today whether he will face criminal charges from a State Attorney's Office investigation into a sexual assault allegation.

The Second Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee will announce the findings of its investigation at a 2 p.m. news conference, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

"We think we have exhausted all investigative tools," State Attorney Willie Meggs said Wednesday.

Today's announcement will come after weeks of speculation concerning a sexual assault allegation reported to police on Dec. 7, 2012. A month after the off-campus incident, the woman identified the suspect as Winston, who has denied wrong­doing through his attorney, Tim Jansen.

"We're hoping and waiting like everyone else, and we believe the evidence will exonerate Mr. Winston," Jansen said.

The accuser's Dade City-based attorney, Patricia Carroll, could not be reached for comment.

Jansen told the Orlando Sentinel he would expect advance notice if Meggs intended to charge Winston.

"Well yes, that is a collegial practice in this practice and almost anywhere else," Jansen said. "If you have a client and they're going to charge your client, they would give you the heads-up and you'd be able to turn your client in. Hopefully that's not going to happen because he's trying to get to the ACC (title) game."

Jansen said he, along with Winston, will hold a separate news conference after Meggs' announcement. FSU is scheduled to practice today before departing for the ACC title game in Charlotte, N.C.

The Tallahassee Police Department's investigation stalled in February until last month when the incident report became public. Police handed the case to the State Attorney's Office on Nov. 12, and Meggs began overseeing the investigation the next day.

Meggs said the end of the investigation should answer questions about how the investigation was handled and why it took 11 months before prosecutors were notified.

"When you all look at this, when the dust all settles, you'll say 'Man, there were some things that could have been done back in December of '12 that could have cleared this up a whole lot easier than November of 2013,' " he said.

Meggs has been tight-lipped about what his investigation has found. ESPN has reported that DNA from Winston was found on the woman's underwear. Jansen has said that his client had consensual sex with the accuser.

Meggs initially said the investigation could end before Thanksgiving but cautioned he wanted to make sure his office answered as many questions as possible. He has said several times that it's up to prosecutors to determine whether there is a "reasonable" chance of conviction.

Today's announcement will come two days before the No. 1-ranked Seminoles face No. 20 Duke in the ACC Championship Game, and four days before voters must submit ballots for the Heisman Trophy. Winston, 19, a redshirt freshman, is the frontrunner for the award after passing for 3,490 yards and a school-record 35 touchdowns while leading FSU to its first 12-0 season since its 1999 national championship year.

He was named ACC player of the year, offensive player of the year and rookie of the year this week.

FSU policy dictates that a student-athlete is suspended from game action if charged with a felony until the charge is resolved "absent extraordinary circumstances as determined by the administration."

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

FSU's Winston to learn result of investigation Thursday 12/04/13 [Last modified: Thursday, December 5, 2013 12:07am]

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