The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating Florida State over its handling of the Jameis Winston rape allegations, as first reported and confirmed by USA Today’s Rachel Axon. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education is looking into whether or not the university violated Title IX laws.
Per the report:
Sexual harassment and violence are considered forms of sex discrimination under the 1972 federal law, which requires colleges and universities that receive federal funds to investigate claims of sexual assault and provide a timely and impartial grievance procedure to resolve those claims. Non-compliance with the law can result in the department revoking federal funding, although that has never happened.
Deadspin reported on Thursday that Winston, the Seminoles quarterback and last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, met with university officials concerning the school’s Title IX investigation in January. The investigation surrounded allegations that Winston raped a Florida State student on Dec. 7, 2012. The state attorney’s office announced last December that Winston would not face criminal charges in the case.
Axon reports that a delay in the investigation and the school’s meeting only with Winston “contradict guidance given to schools in 2011 by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).” Florida State provided a statement to USA Today on Thursday afternoon regarding the latest developments.
Florida State released a statement to USA TODAY Sports on Thursday afternoon, saying, "State and federal privacy laws prohibit the university from commenting on any individual case. Generally speaking, students at any time have the right to avail themselves of the Student Code of Conduct, which sets high expectations for the university community and provides a way to adjudicate grievances. The Code of Conduct imposes no time limits on when an aggrieved student may file a complaint or when new information can be considered. The university evaluates all information it receives and acts on it when appropriate. We take seriously the trust and privacy of the entire university community."
Winston’s accuser filed her complaint with the Office of Civil Rights in March. Baine Kerr, an attorney retained by the accuser, also commented to USA Today.
“The university went for the better part of a year without requesting her cooperation in any proceedings," he said. "She's consistently been willing to cooperate and assist a university investigation. She remains so.
"She remains willing to respond to any reasonable request for further information from the university so long as her safety is protected."
Winston led the Seminoles to a BCS championship victory over Auburn on Jan. 6, 2014. According to SI.com legal analyst Michael McCann, Winston could be called to testify if a suit is brought against Florida State. https://twitter.com/McCannSportsLaw/status/451869239876780032