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Atty: "Power struggle" at FSU over Winston allegations

Jameis Winston talks to reporters on Dec. 13, 2013, in New York.

AP Photo

Last Updated Sep 5, 2014 4:46 PM EDT

The attorney for the woman who accused Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston of raping her told 48 Hours' Crimesider that while some at the university want the case investigated, others "are more concerned about the football program."

According to attorney John Clune, on Aug. 7, FSU interviewed his client for the first time about the night she says Winston sexually assaulted her back in December 2012.

She has since left the Tallahassee school for another university.

The woman initially went to the FSU police on Dec. 7, 2012, and the next month told Tallahassee police that her alleged attacker - whose name she said she had not previously known - was Jameis Winston. But her family said that police and the university essentially abandoned the case until 11 months later when the media began asking questions.

In early December 2013, Florida State's Attorney Willie Meggs announced he would not be filing charges in the case, citing insufficient evidence. Four months later, the federal Department of Education announced it was opening an investigation into whether FSU violated the woman's rights under Title IX, the law which bars discrimination based on sex in educational programs.

FSU is one of several dozen universities being investigated by the DOE's Office for Civil Rights for alleged Title IX violations.

A spokesperson for FSU declined to confirm or comment on the investigation except to state: "While state and federal student privacy laws prohibit the university from commenting on an individual case, in general, complainants control the timing in our process."

Clune said that while there are people in the university's Title IX office that are "well-intentioned" and "sincerely want to see [Title IX] compliance...you've got one of the most powerful athletics departments in the country that would be more than happy to see this go away."

He continued: "We'll see how that power struggle plays out."

Winston won last year's Heisman Trophy, college football's highest honor. He led the FSU Seminoles to the 2013 national college football title.

According to the Associated Press, after practice Thursday Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said of the new investigation: "This team just moves on. I have no idea how that'll go or what it's about. That's for other people to find out. We're just here playing ball."

Clune told Crimesider that as far as he knows, Winston has not made a formal statement or agreed to an interview by police or FSU regarding the allegations.

David Cornwall, an attorney advising Winston's family, did not address Crimesider's questions about whether Winston had been interviewed, but released the following statement: "The real story here is that after her Colorado attorneys created a media frenzy alleging that Florida State University failed to comply with its Title IX obligations, [the accuser] had to come clean and admit that she previously refused to cooperate with the university's Title IX inquiry."

Clune called Cornwall's contention that the accuser did not cooperate with a Title IX inquiry, "completely false."

"There is only one party here that has refused to cooperate with the university," said Clune. "It's time that Mr Winston give his interview."

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for CBSNews.com