The attorney representing a woman who accused Florida State’s Jameis Winston of sexual assault says she intends to sue the university, the police department that handled the case, and the Seminoles quarterback on behalf of her client, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Attorney Patricia Carroll said she plans on submitting notice of her suit against the Tallahassee Police Department early next week, an action that would complete a necessary first step in the Florida legal process that requires a six-month period between the initial notification and the actual lawsuit.
"Absolutely you’re going to see a civil suit," Carroll said Wednesday. "You cannot have law enforcement that is not held accountable."
The timing and handling of the case by authorities has been an issue since the investigation first came to public light in November. The alleged incident occurred in December 2012, at which time the woman filed a police report. But Tallahassee police did not hand the case over to local prosecutors until November of 2013.
City manager Anita Favors Thompson said in a November email to the Tallahassee mayor and city commissioners that the case was immediately investigated, but then police, "stopped getting responses from the young woman and could no longer contact her for additional follow up and information after many attempts to do so," and that the accuser’s attorneys said the woman "changed her mind and did not wish to prosecute."
Tallahassee police chief Tom Coe in December defended the department’s handling of the case, and on Dec. 5, state attorney Willie Meggs announced the 20-year-old Heisman winner would not be charged.
Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, has maintained Winston and the accuser had consensual sex — Winston was 18 at the time of the encounter — and DNA matching Winston’s was reportedly found in the woman’s underwear.
Florida State won the national championship on Monday after Winston threw a last-minute touchdown pass to give the Seminoles a 34-31 win over Auburn in the BCS Championship Game. On Wednesday, Carroll told ABC that her client has been on the receiving end of anger by Florida State fans who learned her identity, and that the woman has been warned by authorities not to return to Florida State.
"I inquired if . . . if she could return to FSU and they told me absolutely not," Carroll told ABC. "They too had the impression she would be in physical danger."