Thu December 5, 2013
Fla. Prosecutor: No Sexual Assault Charges For FSU Football Star
Originally published on Fri December 6, 2013 9:57 am
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
A Florida prosecutor says he will not charge Florida State University football star Jameis Winston with sexual assault. The 19-year-old quarterback was being investigated after a young woman alleged Winston raped her a year ago. But Winston's attorney said the sex was consensual. Joining me now is NPR's Tom Goldman. And, Tom, tell us more about what the prosecutor said this afternoon.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Melissa, Willie Meggs, he's the state attorney in Tallahassee, held a news conference this afternoon. And he said he carefully examined all the evidence in this case and concluded no charges will be filed against Jameis Winston or anyone in the case. Now, this stems from what Meggs calls a sexual event last December, a year ago, between Winston and the young woman who accused Winston of rape.
Now, Winston is a hero in Tallahassee, a national figure, the starting quarterback on the top-rank Florida State Seminoles. He's the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy given to the best college football player in the country. And that award is announced December 14. Excuse me. Meggs said none of that, the fame, the football, played into the length or outcome of this investigation.
WILLIE MEGGS: Her recall of the events of that night have been moving around a good bit. There are some memory lapses. There were some major issues. And we were trying to determine, about the memory lapse, what would cause that.
BLOCK: And, Tom, that is the prosecutor, Willie Meggs there, talking about the conclusion that he reached, which is that no charges would be filed and the problems that he saw with making this case.
GOLDMAN: Right. And as you just heard from Willie Meggs, he said they were trying to determine about the memory lapse, what would cause that. And Meggs said alcohol or drugs might have caused the lapses. But he said toxicology report showed no intoxication or presence of drugs. He also said that there was DNA evidence that showed the accuser had sex with another man - Meggs said her boyfriend - near the time she had the so-called sexual event with Winston. Meggs indicated that would have confused any possible prosecution.
BLOCK: Tom, any reaction from the two main people involved in this, Jameis Winston and also his accuser?
GOLDMAN: Yeah. We heard from Jameis Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen. He spoke to the media after the announcement. And he described Winston's reaction when the news came down.
TIM JANSEN: I can tell you he gave me a hug. It was nice. It was not relieved because he knew he didn't do anything. And he was like, you know, I knew it just took time for the truth to come out.
GOLDMAN: And the accuser's lawyer, as you can tell from the statement I'm about to read, believes there was a different truth and still believes that. The statement said, in part: The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice. The victim has grave concerns that her experience, as it unfolded in the public eye and through social media, will discourage other victims of rape from coming forward and reporting.
BLOCK: Well, Mr. Meggs, the prosecutor, said today the case is closed. But there are still lingering questions here.
GOLDMAN: Yeah. You know, it's closed, although he did point out, like in any case, new evidence could emerge and it could be reopened. But, yes, you know, Melissa, there's one question that people don't believe has been answered sufficiently. Why did it take Tallahassee police so long after the initial complaint to today, nearly a year from the complaint, to decision about whether or not to charge Winston.
The accuser's lawyer says a detective early on questioned whether the accuser really wanted to pursue this case because Tallahassee is a big football town and she'd be raked over the coals for this. So, yes, some questions we'd still like answered.
BLOCK: OK. NPR's sports correspondent, Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks so much.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.