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Some police officials were torn about proper procedure -- unsure when to seek a coach's or athletic director's assistance when investigating crimes.• Some athletic programs have, in effect, a team lawyer who showed up at a crime scene or jail or police department -- sometimes even before an athlete requested legal counsel.The lawyers, sometimes called by athletic department officials, were often successful in giving athletes an edge in evading prosecution -- from minor offenses to major crimes.• The high profiles of the athletic programs and athletes had a chilling effect on whether cases were even brought to police and how they were investigated.And sometimes, they want more than just information.
A former Florida State athletic department employee told Outside the Lines that Bonasorte's routine involvement in criminal cases troubled some colleagues because of the administrator's own record; Bonasorte, a former Florida State football standout, pleaded guilty in 1987 to charges of cocaine distribution and served six months in prison.
After he received the letter, Ford had Williams and another player come to his house for a meeting to talk about the allegations. A jury in July 2012 found otherwise, convicting Williams of rape and sexual battery; however, the conviction was overturned on appeal last year when it was determined at least two jurors had made an unauthorized visit to the crime scene.
Ford said he never contacted police because the letter had indicated police had been notified."I conducted my own investigation," Ford testified in court. Ford and an athletic department spokesman did not respond to requests for comment from Outside the Lines.
Former Assistant District Attorney Jill Ochs-Tontz deems the incident and what happened afterward wholly disturbing."By the time law enforcement got involved, Travis Ford [had] pulled the athletes in, talked to them and made sure their stories were straight," she said.
"From the university's side, they moved immediately to protect these athletes and did not cooperate in the investigation."In the Outside the Lines investigation, the Stillwater Police Department stood out because its officers are instructed not to notify school officials when an allegation involves an athlete, unlike many departments where it's common to give athletic departments or universities a heads-up: "It would give the appearance that there could be some special treatment," said department spokesman Capt. "We don't want to give anybody special treatment."Police reports involving athletes at several schools show that city and campus police routinely notify campus administrators, coaches or athletic department officials when an athlete is involved in a crime.