State Attorney: FSU QB Jameis Winston will not be charged
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — State Attorney Willie Meggs announced Thursday afternoon that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will not be charged following a sexual assault investigation.
Meggs said no one involved in the case will be charged. His office will release a detailed report to the public by Friday afternoon.
He added that Florida State’s football record and the Heisman Trophy considerations for Winston did not factor in the speed of his investigation.
“We worked as fast as we could with the time constraints that we had to arrive at a decision, and I think we arrived at the right decision,” Meggs said.
Meggs said that Winston and the alleged victim did not know each other before they met, and the victim alleged a sexual assault in a police report from Dec. 7, 2012. He said the victim had patches of memory loss from that night, but he denied that her story had become inconsistent over time.
“Her recall of the events of that night have moved around a good bit,” Meggs said.
When asked if the case was closed, Meggs said, “Yes, it is.”
Tim Jansen, Winston’s defense attorney, spoke to reporters later Thursday. Jansen said he talked to Winston, who had taken an exam at 1 p.m., a few minutes before meeting with the media.
“He was very happy,” Jansen said. “He knew he didn’t do anything. It just took time for the truth to come out … He did nothing that was improper.”
Winston took part in practice with the top-ranked Seminoles (12-0) on Thursday afternoon as they prepare for Saturday’s ACC championship game against No. 20 Duke (10-2) in Charlotte, N.C. But he released a statement through Jansen.
“I want to thank my family, friends, coaches and teammates for standing by me during a difficult time,” Winston said in the statement. “I also want to thank the State Attorney’s Office for examining all of the facts and reaching a decision in a conclusive manner. It’s been difficult to stay silent through this process, but I never lost faith in the truth and in who I am. I’m very relieved I’ll be able to continue my education at Florida State and I’m excited I can now get back to helping our team achieve its goals.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had not commented publicly about Winston’s investigation, but he released a statement Thursday afternoon.
“As you might imagine, I was pleased to hear that the State Attorney’s Office exonerated Jameis in the matter,” Fisher said. “I would like to point out that our community and our university are blessed to have really good people in place to review matters like this.”
Winston had been linked to a sexual assault from Dec. 7, 2012, that was investigated by the Tallahassee Police Department. The case was considered open but inactive by TPD until media inquiries from TMZ and the Tampa Bay Times in mid-November prompted TPD and the State Attorney’s Office to review the case.
While Winston was never arrested or charged, the story went public Nov. 13. Since then, Meggs and Jansen have sparred in public over the case and also over each other’s public comments.
On Thursday, Jansen reiterated that Winston had a “consensual act” with the alleged victim and that he hasn’t wavered since December 2012.
“We believed from Day 1 in December that this was a consensual act between Mr. Winston and a young woman,” Jansen said. “We believed it in December, we believed it in February and we believed it today. We have never wavered on that.”
DNA analysis conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that the DNA taken from the victim’s underwear matched that of a swab that Winston voluntarily provided. The report was also leaked to ESPN.com.
The next day, Jansen said that Winston and the victim had consensual sex. But that was refuted by the victim’s attorney, Patricia Carroll.
“We have a duty as prosecutors to only file those charges if we have a reasonable likelihood of a conviction,” Meggs said. “After reviewing all the evidence in the case we did not feel we could meet that burden.”
Carroll also called TPD’s investigation “questionable” and said that the detective assigned to the case had warned the victim about a possible backlash from the community for allegations against a Florida State football player.
According to Carroll, the woman who accused Winston of sexual assault worries her experience and how the case unfolded will discourage rape victims from coming forward in the future.
“The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice,” Carroll said in a statement. “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.”
After three weeks of further investigation, first by TPD and then by the State Attorney’s office, Meggs decided not to push forward. Meggs interviewed the alleged victim on Nov. 21.
When asked whether the case could’ve turned out differently had he gotten it in February, Meggs said he did not know.
“I couldn’t speculate about that,” Meggs said. “I don’t know. We might’ve had some additional facts earlier, better memories. … It certainly would’ve been nice to know all of the things we know now back in December.”
Winston, a redshirt freshman who on Wednesday was named the ACC Player of the Year, has been one of the top quarterbacks in college football in 2013. He has thrown for an ACC-leading 3,490 yards and a school-record 35 touchdown passes.
He was set to leave Tallahassee late Thursday night with his teammates for Saturday’s ACC championship game.
“I know Jameis is pleased he can focus on being a student at a great university and he’s excited about helping our team achieve its goals this year,” Fisher said. “Right now, we’re all looking forward to what we have in front of us on Saturday.”