ESPN has reported the state attorney investigating Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston’s role in an alleged sexual assault said his office could decide within the next two weeks whether to pursue criminal charges against the Heisman Trophy candidate.
William Meggs, state attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee, Fla., said his office has interviewed several witnesses the past two days, after Tallahassee police referred the case to his office Wednesday.
The timing of Meggs’ decision is important because if authorities charge Winston with a felony, he will be immediately suspended and ineligible for competition under Florida State athletic department policies.
Multiple reports have connected Winston to an incident on Dec. 7, 2012. Tallahassee police have confirmed only that they are investigating the report of an alleged sexual assault on that date.
The alleged victim identified Winston as her attacker but did so nearly a month after first reporting the alleged assault to FSU campus police, sources told ESPN.com. FSU police referred the case to Tallahassee police because the alleged crime took place at an off-campus apartment. It’s unclear why Tallahassee police waited 11 months to refer the case to the state attorney’s office.
Tim Jansen, Winston’s attorney, told ESPN.com on Thursday that his client was being investigated for “his potential involvement” in the incident. Jansen provided police with affidavits from two witnesses earlier this week, one of whom was an FSU football player, sources told ESPN.com on Friday. Jansen said Thursday that police had already interviewed at least one of those witnesses and were in the process of interviewing the second.
Winston hasn’t yet talked with police and hasn’t provided authorities with a written statement, according to people with knowledge of the case.
Winston’s name was not included in a police report that Tallahassee police released to ESPN.com on Wednesday. The alleged victim initially identified the suspect as being between 5-foot-9 and 5-11. Winston is 6-4, according to FSU’s football media guide.
The No. 2 Seminoles have perhaps the clearest path to the Jan. 6 VIZIO BCS National Championship at the Rose Bowl stadium. After Saturday’s home game against Syracuse, FSU hosts Idaho and has a Nov. 30 road game at rival Florida. FSU clinched the ACC’s Atlantic Division title with last weekend’s 59-3 win over Wake Forest and will meet the Coastal Division winner in the Dec. 7 ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C.
Winston, a redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Ala., has emerged as a Heisman Trophy co-favorite, along with reigning winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M. Winston has passed for 2,661 yards and 26 touchdowns, and led FSU to routs of nationally ranked opponentsClemson and Miami.