The cloud of uncertainty hovering over Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston should finally dissipate today.
State attorney Willie Meggs is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2 p.m. to announce whether he will charge Winston in connection with an assault investigation, chief assistant state attorney Georgia Cappleman told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday.
Winston has been accused of sexually assaulting a female former FSU student in December 2012 in Tallahassee. Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, has stated the relationship was consensual and told the Sentinel on Nov. 13 that Winston denied he assaulted the woman.
Jansen told the Tallahassee Democrat that he, with Winston, will hold a separate press conference after Meggs’ announcement. Jansen stated in an email to the Sentinel he was still determining a time and location for the press conference. FSU is scheduled to practice before departing for the ACC title game in Charlotte, N.C., so Winston’s press conference may be delayed until after the Seminoles’ practice concludes around 6 p.m.
Jansen told reporters Wednesday he had not spoken with Meggs and wasn’t sure which direction the state attorney was leaning. He added he hoped to hear from Meggs before his press conference but would not disclose the information if he received it.
When Jansen was asked whether he thought he’d get a courtesy notice if Meggs opted to charge Winston, Jansen responded, “Well yes, that is a collegial practice in this practice and almost anywhere else. 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.”
The case was still being investigated as of Monday, Cappleman told the Sentinel. Cappleman said that her office was nearly done collecting evidence and expected to reach a decision later this week or early next week.
Winston could face suspension if charged. FSU’s code of conduct prohibits athletes from competing when charged with a felony “absent extraordinary circumstances as determined by the administration.”
Jansen has pushed for his client to be cleared and for the investigation to be closed before the Heisman Trophy voting closes Dec. 9 and No. 1 FSU faces No. 20 Duke on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the ACC Championship Game.
Meanwhile, the victim’s family has aggressively defended her. In a statement first released to the Tampa Bay Times, her family lashed out at the Tallahassee police for being slow to question witnesses and process evidence in the case. The statement also questioned why Jansen was made aware of the investigation and allowed to influence witnesses before the case was referred to the state attorney.
Meggs questioned the 11-month delay between the initial report the woman was assault and the referral of the case to his office. Tallahassee police countered they waited while the victim decided whether she intended to press charges.
“That it is a year old is not common at all. Once we started looking at it, (it) has been pretty normal,” Cappleman told the Sentinel when asked about the timeline for the investigation.
While FSU officials have barred coach Jimbo Fisher, Winston and the rest of the football team from talking about the pending investigation, Fisher acknowledged it has had an impact on the team regardless of how well it has managed to perform on the field.
“Our team is not insulated from it. We deal with it,” Fisher said during the ACC’s teleconference on Sunday. “We address those issues. We control what we can control — how we prepare and how we play. That’s how we go about it.”
Fisher was asked last week if it was difficult to not be able to publicly defend Winston.
“We’ll just let the facts come out, I don’t want to comment on too much,” Fisher said. “Let’s just wait and see how things turn out.”