TIME

Feds Probe Florida State’s Handling of Jameis Winston Rape Claims

Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles in action during the BCS National Championship. Florida State defeated Auburn 34-31 in the game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 6 2014.
Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles in action during the BCS National Championship. Florida State defeated Auburn 34-31 in the game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 6 2014. John Pyle—Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA

The U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office has begun to investigate whether the university violated Title IX laws while looking into allegations of sexual assault against Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Florida State University’s handling of an alleged sexual assault last year involving Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston.

The investigation will determine whether or not the university violated Title IX laws while looking into allegations of rape against Winston. The alleged rape—which the football player has always denied—is said to have occurred in December 2012.

The university announced Winston would not face criminal charges for the alleged rape in December. But the victim filed a Title IX complaint in March with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, USA Today reports. The university is accused of meeting with Winston in January to discuss the assault, without the accuser present.

Because the investigation and meeting were reportedly conducted so far after the incident, the Office of Civil Rights is looking to see whether or not the school is in violation of the federal law that protects students against sex discrimination, including acts of sexual violence and harassment. Under that law, schools are required to conduct timely and neutral investigations into all complaints of harassment and violence and discipline accordingly. A university is at risk of losing federal funding if it does not comply.

FSU told USA Today it could not comment on the ongoing investigation, but said the school has rules in place to protect students. “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 statement read. “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.”

[USA Today]

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