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Police defend investigation into FSU's Winston

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) A police chief is defending the handling of sexual assault allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, saying a timeline shows the investigation into the Heisman candidate was handled professionally.
/ Source: NBC Sports

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) A police chief is defending the handling of sexual assault allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, saying a timeline shows the investigation into the Heisman candidate was handled professionally.

Interim Tallahassee Police Chief Tom Coe issued a news release laying out the timeline Wednesday, saying the investigation began when officers took the alleged victim to the hospital Dec. 7. She was then interviewed, and DNA and other evidence was collected.

Winston was not identified by the victim as a suspect until more than a month later, Jan. 10, according to the police timeline. The following day, the woman's attorney canceled a planned meeting with investigators, police said.

Later that month, Winston refused to be interviewed, Coe said.

Coe said investigators contacted the victim's attorney again and gave her toxicology reports in February and March. He said the attorney, Patricia Carroll, told investigators she would review the findings and contact them if the victim wanted to pursue the case.

Police did not hand over information about the alleged sexual assault to prosecutors until earlier this month. Coe has said the case was placed on inactive status after police were told the alleged victim no longer wanted to prosecute the case. An attorney representing the accuser has said her client never wanted to drop the charges.

ESPN first reported the contents of a DNA report, which said DNA in the accuser's underwear matched Winston. Winston's attorney has suggested the two had consensual sex, though the woman has maintained she was raped.

"We'll just let the facts come out," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said in his most direct comments about the case to date. "I don't want to comment on it too much. Let's just wait and see how things turn out."

Carroll, Winston's lawyer Tim Jansen and State Attorney Willie Meggs did not immediately return messages seeking comment on the police statement.

Coe said the timeline was released because "there have been process questions that I want to respond to because I believe they demonstrate TPD's professionalism and the investigative processes of a sexual battery case."

Jansen told ESPN on Wednesday that he met with the state attorney to voice concerns about the amount of time the investigation has taken. He said the delay could affect Winston's reputation, Heisman Trophy chances and the Seminoles' run to the BCS championship game.

Earlier Wednesday, The Associated Press reported on the contents of Tallahassee police records that show Winston was questioned about two incidents unrelated to the sexual assault case, though he was not arrested or charged. Winston's attorney said he was unaware of both incidents.

In the first case, Tallahassee police records show officers were called to the Legacy Suites apartments on Nov. 27, 2012, two days after management said 13 windows had been damaged by players shooting BB guns at each other.

Both Winston and his roommate at the time, defensive end Chris Casher, told officers the next day that they had been involved in a series of "battles" involving FSU players that had been going on for a month. They denied shooting any BB guns themselves but said someone threw eggs at their window and shot at them with a paintball launcher.

Police found BBs littering the ground and saw windows in several apartments with small holes.

Police records show the apartment manager, Dave Sudekum, initially wanted to evict Winston and three other tenants but decided to not press charges after an FSU athletic department official promised that the players would pay for the damage.

Sudekum initially told a reporter this week that a previous management company had been involved. When told that his name was on the report, he then said he couldn't remember the incident.

FSU athletic department officials have not responded to emailed questions about the incident. Meggs, the state attorney, said earlier Wednesday that he doubted the BB gun incident would have much bearing on the sexual assault investigation.

In the second incident, Winston came into a Burger King with three men but did not order food. An employee, who recognized him, first saw him using ketchup cups to take soda. He asked for a water cup after she told him to stop, but he admitted he would use it for soda and filled it repeatedly with soda over her objections, the report said.

The report says Winston was never interviewed about the incident because the restaurant declined to prosecute.