During an investigation of a rape allegation, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston received preferential treatment and “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university,” the New York Times reported.
State Attorney Willie Meggs acknowledged that the investigation was flawed when he announced that there would be no charges in a surreal press conference marked by odd laughter last December. He told the Times’ Walt Bogdanich that, while a proper investigation might have produced the same result, Tallahassee police “just missed all the basic fundamental stuff that you are supposed to do.”
In a story with the headline “A Star Player Accused and a Flawed Investigation,” Bogdanich writes that Tallahassee police failed to act and made mistakes at several key moments after the alleged rape was reported. They did not obtain security video from Potbelly’s, the bar at which the accuser met Winston and his teammates Chris Casher and Ronald Darby. Nearly a year later, they sought the video and, by then, it had been taped over. Nor did they try to learn the identity of a cab driver or his fare, who swiped a student ID in order to get a discount for a ride back to the apartment in which the alleged incident occurred. When police identified Winston as a suspect after more than a month, they reached out to him by telephone and were told that he would get back to them after baseball practice. The next call police received was from attorney Timothy Jansen, who said his client would not address the matter.
“The case was not properly investigated from the start. There were so many things that needed to be done that did not get done,” Meggs said. “…It’s insane to call a suspect on the phone. You don’t call someone on the phone and have any level of control. Had it been done right from the get-go, we might, I’m not saying we’d have a different answer or a different result but we would certainly have more clarity.”
The case against the Heisman Trophy winner, who led FSU to the national title as a redshirt freshman, was closed after 66 days and lead investigator Scott Angulo interviewed no witnesses, although one recorded the sexual act, or obtain phone or DNA records. Patricia A. Carroll, a lawyer for the accuser, said Angulo told her that her client would be “raked over the coals” if she pursued the case.
The Times sheds light on the timeline, too. News of Winston’s alleged involvement in the December 2012 incident did not become public until Nov. 13, 2013, but the FSU athletic department knew as early as January 2013 that Winston had been accused. In an internal Tallahassee police email dated Jan. 23, 2013, one officer wrote that police had “received a call from the Athletic Directors Assistant inquiring about the case.”
Winston, 20, maintains he had consensual sex with his accuser and refused to speak with the Times and David Cornwell, his Atlanta lawyer, told the Bogdanich, “We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise, to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady.”
An investigation by the the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is underway,