Rape Accusation Still Shadows Heisman Finalist
On Saturday night, there's a very good chance Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will win the Heisman Trophy, awarded each year to the best college football player in the country.
For Winston, family, friends, teammates and Seminole fans, undoubtedly it'll be a shining moment, but a discordant note continues to run through this tale of football glory.
On Friday, a lawyer representing a young woman who accused Winston of rape said the investigation that essentially cleared Winston of wrongdoing is anything but clear. She wants Florida's attorney general to conduct an independent review of the investigation.
Attorney Patricia Carroll held a 90-minute news conference in Zephyrhills, Fla., detailing what she calls "a complete failure of an investigation of a rape case."
Carroll says her client still maintains she was raped by Winston last December, even though Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs announced last week he didn't have enough solid evidence to file charges and gain a conviction.
Carroll says the investigations conducted by Meggs, and the Tallahassee Police Department before him, were rife with problems.
After the rape was reported in December 2012, Carroll says police failed to interview key witnesses or obtain necessary search warrants. For instance, she says, the lead detective got a warrant for the accuser's cell phone and social media accounts, but didn't do the same for Winston or two friends who witnessed parts of what Meggs termed the "sexual event" between Winston and the accuser.
Carroll also notes discrepancies in toxicology reports and medical records. At one point during her news conference, Carroll held up in one hand what she said were medical records that were part of the investigation released to the media, and in the other, records the accuser's family received. Carroll says the records made public omitted information contained in the family's copy — including a notation that said, "Clinical impression: sexual assault."
Carroll says the investigations, by the police and Meggs, were more about the accuser than the alleged perpetrator.
But "the case is closed," a Tallahassee Police Department spokesman said in a statement Friday, "and we continue to support Mr. Meggs as we have done throughout this process."
Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman told NPR in an email: "We disagree with Ms. Carroll that our investigation was not thorough or that it targeted the victim. We have confidence in the toxicology results. We are not aware of any relevant information that could be gleaned from any additional investigation of phone records or medical records."
Winston, 19, may be about to embark on one of the most memorable periods of his young life. Saturday may bring him the Heisman Trophy. On Jan. 6, he'll lead the No. 1-ranked Seminoles against Auburn in the BCS national championship game.
This week, Winston was quoted as saying, "I just want people to know how much my family took from this and how my team supported me through this whole thing ... I know I did nothing wrong."