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Off the hook

Prosecutor: FSU officials didn't break law in athlete's rape case

Posted: Tuesday August 26, 2003 6:38PM; Updated: Tuesday August 26, 2003 6:38PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida State administrators will not be charged with any wrongdoing for allegedly tampering with a rape trial that involved two of the school's athletes, State Attorney Willie Meggs said Tuesday.

Meggs met last week with Florida State President T.K. Wetherell to review the school's involvement in the case -- a rape accusation by a female student athlete against football star Travis Johnson. He was acquitted Aug. 14 of the charge in less than a half hour by an all-woman jury.

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The 6-foot-4, 286-pound Johnson -- a key member on the Seminole defense -- was charged with raping the woman on Feb. 6. He said the sex was consensual.

But prosecutor Adam Ruiz was outraged that Florida State officials met with both parties in what he suspected was an effort to divert the case from a highly publicized and embarrassing trial for the school.

Such a proposal was offered by Florida State's vice president for student affairs, Mary Coburn, in a Feb. 27 e-mail.

The e-mail stipulated that "all parties agree to keep this matter confidential" and "not pursue any further legal action."

Meggs, who also said things looked suspicious, found no intentional wrongdoing.

"These types of cases are difficult and complex because of their very nature," Meggs said in a three-page letter addressed to Wetherell.

"Had the matter been immediately referred to a law enforcement agency this entire controversy could and would have been avoided," Meggs said.

Wetherell, a former Florida State football star who has been the school's president since January, was relieved another potential embarrassment for the school has been resolved.

"We're glad the state attorney agrees that FSU did not intend to do anything wrong," he said. "This should put the matter to rest."

Just last week Wetherell ordered a review of school policies on sexual harassment and sexual assault after the school's inspector general criticized the administration for the manner in which the Johnson case was handled.

Inspector General David Coury said the school's athletic department failed to report the rape allegation by the female athlete -- although she initially did not want it reported to authorities.

The female athlete initially sought to have Johnson removed from campus, the report said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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