Florida State starting Quarterback Jameis Winston is not going be charged in a sexual assault case stemming from late 2012. Winston was cleared after State attorney Willie Meggs announced the decision during a conference Thursday at the Leon County Courthouse. Meggs cited the accuser’s changing story as the reason Winston was not charged.
“We’ve carefully examined all the evidence in this case and have concluded that no charges will be brought against anyone in this case,” Meggs said.
Winston was facing an immediate suspension if he was formally charged on Thursday. With his name in the clear he now is the favourite to win the Heisman Trophy and his team is now the front-runner to win the BCS National Championship. Meggs answered questions regarding favouritism shown towards Winston due to his high-profile athletic status.
“We try to treat everyone fairly and I think we have a track record of doing that,” he said.
Whether Winston was treated like a college star or a regular Joe it does not change the fact that the accuser’s story was fairly inconsistent. In the warrant, the accuser said that she and a group of friends had shots at a local bar and her “memory is very broken from that point forward.” Despite her comments toxicology reports showed that she had small amounts of alcohol in her system and that there was no evidence of drugs usage, including the popular date rape drugs. The accuser said that she recalled being in a taxi after the trip to the bar with a man and they went to an apartment before she was raped. After the rape she recalled the man dressing her and dropping her off at an intersection.
“Her recall of the events of that night have been moving around quite a bit,” said Meggs. He noted that pairing up the accuser’s memory lapses and her lack causes for such forgotten memories made it difficult to press charges.
The accuser’s attorney, Patricia Carroll, released a statement after Meggs spoke and displayed worry for future rape victims. “The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice. 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.”
Which leads to a tough median. The desire to stand up for a potential victim’s rights has people quick to assume there is a cover up in the works, but the accuser’s lack of a solid story doesn’t provide much evidence. Carroll, however, feels differently. Two weeks ago she wrote that a Tallahassee police officer told her that the city is a “big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against [Winston] because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable.” That statement alone leaves enough bait for anyone to assume that the city and school are putting a star athlete above of the law and rights of a young woman. The length it took this decision to come to light also adds to the conspiracy. The incident was reported by the accuser nearly a year ago, but Tallahasee police put the case in “open/inactive” status because the accuser had no desire to prosecute Winston, Carroll, however, denies this claim.
While people will still continue to insist that the law has once again been put aside in favour of a local football team, the accuser’s changing story lacks the substance to charge Winston, whether he was shown favouritism or not.
By James Hadley