A freshman of Florida State University claimed to be sexually assaulted by star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. As she gave her account to the police, several bruises began to appear, indicating recent trauma. Tests would later find semen on her underwear.
Three weeks after Mr. Winston was publicly identified as the suspect, the storm had passed. The local prosecutor announced that he lacked the evidence to charge Mr. Winston with rape. The quarterback would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Florida State to the national championship.
An examination by The New York Times has found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university. After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA. The prosecutor, William N. Meggs, acknowledged a number of shortcomings in the police investigation. The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter. By the time the prosecutor got the case, important evidence had disappeared, including the video of the sexual act.
The case has unfolded questions about whether athletes sometimes receive preferential treatment and how universities and colleges are properly handling assault cases. University administrators, in apparent violation of federal law, did not promptly investigate either the rape accusation or the witness’s admission that he had videotaped part of the encounter.
The university did nothing about it, allowing Mr. Winston to play the full season without having to answer any questions. After the championship game, in January 2014, university officials asked Mr. Winston to discuss the case, but he declined on advice of his lawyer.
When The Times asked Mr. Winston for an interview, an Atlanta lawyer advising his family, David Cornwell, responded, “We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise, to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady.” Mr. Cornwell, who has represented major sports figures and the N.F.L., added, “Jameis has never sexually assaulted anybody.”
A month before the rape accusation became public, the university’s victim advocate learned that a second woman had sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Mr. Winston, according to the prosecutor’s office. The woman did not call it rape — she did not say “no.” (Which is awful that this woman thinks since she didn’t say “no” that it wasn’t rape).
Patricia A. Carroll, a lawyer for Mr. Winston’s accuser, said the police investigator who handled the case, Scott Angulo, told her that because Tallahassee was a big football town, her client would be “raked over the coals” if she pursued the case. The department issued a statement, saying that police reports in the Winston case “document that our department took the case seriously, processed evidence and conducted a thorough investigation based on information available when the case was reported.”
This really burns my ass to think this is the kind of behavior that athletes are allowed to have because of their position and importance of a sports team. It’s absolutely ridiculous that the winner of the Heisman trophy is also a known rapist (because of poor investigation).