No charges in football player sex assault case
Dec. 05, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) — A top college football player for the No. 1 ranked program in the country will not be charged with sexually assaulting a woman who accused him of raping her about a year ago, a prosecutor said Thursday.
State Attorney Willie Meggs made the announcement regarding Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston at a news conference, saying there was not enough evidence to win a conviction.
"After reviewing all the evidence in the case, we did not feel like we could meet that burden," Meggs said.
A search warrant from January, released hours before the news conference, detailed the woman's accusations for the first time. She told police she and friends had five to six shots at a bar and her "memory is very broken from that point forward." She said she remembered being in a cab with a "non-descript" black man and going into an apartment where she was raped.
The woman didn't identify Winston, who is black, until about a month after the alleged assault.
The case garnered national attention in a country where college sports are revered. Winston, 19, has led the Florida State Seminoles to a No. 1 ranking and a shot at a national championship if they defeat Duke on Saturday.
Many Heisman voters were waiting to see whether Winston will be charged with a crime before casting their ballots. The deadline for ballots is Monday, and the trophy is awarded Dec. 14.
The details of the alleged rape were contained in a search warrant for cellphone records, including text messages. It was dated Jan. 16, six days after the woman identified Winston.
The warrant said she tried to fight the man off, and at some point, another man came into the room and told him to stop. But the two went into a bathroom "where he completed the act."
Her next memory was of the suspect dressing her, putting her on a scooter and dropping her off at a campus intersection. She said she had no idea where the alleged assault took place.
The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
In the short time since Meggs' office took over the case, investigators have taken DNA from Winston, interviewed the alleged victim and looked at other evidence.
Meggs said DNA found in the accuser's underwear matched Winston. Winston's attorney, Timothy Jansen, has suggested Winston had consensual sex with the accuser and he expects the prosecutor will exonerate his client.
Winston's attorney, Timothy Jansen, said Winston had consensual sex with the accuser.
"He's absolutely innocent and I'm glad and pleased that Willie did a full investigation and found the same thing that we did," Jansen said. "He's relieved that it's over and now he's focused even more on football."
Patricia Carroll, the attorney representing the alleged victim, has not responded to requests for comment. Her office is expected to release a brief statement after the prosecutor's announcement.
The alleged sexual assault was first reported to police on Dec. 7, 2012. The family has said the alleged victim did not know the identity of her attacker until early January. Police said last week that they tried to interview Winston in January but that Jansen at the time told them his client would not answer questions.
The family has been sharply critical of the way Tallahassee police have handled the case. They said they pushed to have a DNA sample taken from Winston, only to be told by a police detective that it would alert Winston and make the case public. The family said Carroll was warned by police that Tallahassee is a "big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable."
Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case and said it was placed on inactive status in February after police were told the alleged victim did not wish to prosecute the case. Carroll has denied that the woman wanted to drop the investigation.
The alleged victim was an FSU student, but she left school last month.
Associated Press writer Kareem Copeland contributed to this story.
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