Prosecutor: Decision in case unlikely next week
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — State Attorney Willie Meggs said Saturday it is unlikely that a final decision will be made before Thanksgiving on whether to charge Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in a sexual assault case.
Meggs’s comments came just a day after the family of the alleged victim sent out a statement disputing the victim consented to sex with Winston as had been suggested by his attorney earlier this week.
“To be clear, the victim did not consent. This was a rape,” the family said in the statement, released late Friday.
Earlier this week, Timothy Jansen, an attorney representing Winston, suggested that the player and the alleged victim may have had consensual sex. Jansen made his comments after results from a DNA report showed Winston’s DNA was found in the underwear of the accuser. Jansen said he was “not surprised” that the DNA was found and that he “anticipated” it would be discovered.
The family in its statement added that the “consent defense is too little too late and is clearly reactive damage control by Jansen after learning the DNA matched his client.”
Prosecutors have the DNA report and have also interviewed the victim. Meggs on Friday said that prosecutors need to do four or five things to wrap up their investigation. But a day later the veteran prosecutor said that “not everything has fallen into place.”
“I very seriously doubt that we will be finished by Thanksgiving,” Meggs said. “We still haven’t gotten everything we need to get.”
The alleged sexual assault was first reported to police in December. The family said earlier this week that the victim did not know the identity of her attacker until early January, when she identified him as Winston.
The family has been sharply critical of the way Tallahassee police have handled the case. The family says 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 statement released Friday called it “significant” that the DNA matches Winston and questioned why Jansen did not previously assert that the sex was consensual.
Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case. The interim chief said this week that the case was placed on inactive status back in February after police were told the alleged victim did not wish to prosecute the case. Patricia Carroll, an attorney representing the accuser, has denied that the woman wanted to drop the investigation.
The alleged victim was an FSU student during the December incident but she left school after Carroll was told by police that information about the case was about to be released to the media.
Winston, 19, was a top freshman recruit and backup quarterback at the time of the alleged assault. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt freshman is now a Heisman Trophy candidate. No. 2 Florida State has maintained during the investigation that Winston’s status has not changed and he started Saturday against Idaho. If the investigation is not wrapped up by Thanksgiving it means that the Seminoles will likely play the Florida Gators without a decision being made on whether to charge Winston.