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Florida State University Under Federal Investigation In Connection To Winston Rape Case

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JAMEIS WINSTON
Florida State wide receiver Kenny Shaw, right, looks over as quarterback Jameis Winston answers questions during a news conference on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 in Newport Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating Florida State University in connection with the Jameis Winston rape case.

The federal agency opened the case for investigation Thursday in response to a complaint filed on March 6, according to a copy of the letter from the OCR obtained by The Huffington Post. The complaint was filed by Winston's accuser and her attorneys.

Winston, a star quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles, was accused by a fellow student of sexually assaulting her on Dec. 7, 2012. The woman reported an assault to Tallahassee police and the university within days of the alleged incident, but the state attorney's office didn't learn of the report for 10 months, and according to Deadspin and Fox Sports, the university didn't question Winston until January 2014.

When school officials did speak with Winston, the 2013 Heisman trophy winner declined to answer any questions. Winston has not denied he had sex with the woman, but has maintained that it was consensual. Two witnesses to the intercourse, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, were charged with violations of the university's code of conduct for "conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for another person," according to Deadspin.

Prosecutors decided in December not to press charges against Winston.

HuffPost was unable to reach the university for comment.

The OCR will investigate whether the university responded appropriately and promptly to reports of sexual violence, and whether a failure to do so created a sexually hostile environment.

As of Thursday, the OCR had 52 pending Title IX investigations involving allegations of sexual violence specifically, the Education Department told HuffPost. Of those 52, 43 investigations were sparked by complaints filed with the OCR and nine involved proactive investigations initiated by the agency.

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