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Lawyers in Jameis Winston rape case feud over extortion claim

Florida State's quarterback, Jameis Winston, stands on the sideline during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., on Sept. 6, 2014.

AP, Steve Cannon, File

Amid a report that the woman who accused college football star Jameis Winston of raping her tried to extort Winston for $7 million, a lawyer for the accuser is firing back, calling the extortion claim "dishonest and distorted."

On Wednesday morning, TMZ reported it had obtained a letter Winston's attorney David Cornwell sent to Florida State University, claiming the accuser's then-attorney told him "If we settle, you will never hear from my client or me again -- in the press or anywhere."

The university is currently investigating the woman's sexual assault claim against Winston, stemming from an alleged incident involving the star quarterback in December 2012.

The attorney who now represents the woman, John Clune, said in a statement released Wednesday that the letter from Winston's lawyer was "full of dishonest and distorted statements." He maintains that it was, in fact, Cornwell who reached out to the accuser's attorney at the time, Patricia Carroll, "to discuss paying off our client."

Clune went on to state that Carroll met with Cornwell -- Winston's lawyer -- but that discussion broke down after "Cornwell threatened to sue our client and her parents for civil racketeering in an effort to intimidate them into staying quiet."

Carroll's office told 48 Hours' Crimesider that she plans to release a statement on the extortion allegations later today. Cornwell's office declined to comment.

In December 2013, Florida authorities decided not to charge Winston with a crime for the alleged sexual assault one year earlier, citing lack of evidence. Despite the young woman bringing her allegations to both the Florida State Police and the Tallahassee Police, Winston and other witnesses were reportedly not interviewed until 11 months later when the media began asking about the case.

By April 2014, the federal Department of Education had begun an investigation into whether FSU violated the accuser's rights under Title IX, the law which bars discrimination based on sex in educational programs.

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for CBSNews.com