The investigation into whether Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston sexually assaulted a female student in 2012 took a vicious turn Wednesday, when the accuser’s family refuted earlier statements from police that the original investigation was halted because the alleged victim did not want to press charges.
The news that Winston, who is currently in the midst of a Heisman Trophy campaign while leading an undefeated Seminoles team toward a potential national championship, was under investigation for sexual assault broke last week when Tallahassee police released a December 2012 police report in the process of transferring the case the Florida State Attorney’s office. The details were sketchy: Winston was the alleged perpetrator but the Tallahassee Police Department had not conducted a thorough investigation, and the case had been deemed “inactive” in February. Why the case and investigation, which still hasn’t led to questioning of Winston, were re-opened and transferred to the State Attorney’s office is still unclear.
Amid questions, Winston led FSU to a 59-3 victory over Syracuse on Saturday.
Then, the report came Monday that it was the accuser who “changed her mind” about the investigation. Those emails and claims cited in that report, according to a statement provided to the Tampa Bay Times today, are false.
The two-page statement maintains that the victim “immediately reported” the incident “to law enforcement and cooperated completely with all requests made of her.” After she identified Winston, the statement says, the victim and her family “grew concerned that she would be targeted on campus” and “requested assistance from an attorney friend to interact with law enforcement on the victim’s behalf.”
That’s when the family says the cooperation from the Tallahassee Police Department changed. According to the family, Tallahassee detective Scott Angulo warned the victim’s attorney “that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against (Winston).” Should she proceed, the family says Angulo said, “she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable.”
Angulo, the family says, also “refused to collect Winston’s DNA or interview Winston’s roommate who witnessed” the alleged assault. Later, police alerted Winston’s attorneys that he was the subject of an investigation before they told the State Attorney’s office, a notification that, the family says, “allowed (Winston’s attorneys) all of this time to create his defense and prepare his witnesses” at a time when the State Attorney’s office “was not given the same opportunity.” The statement also refutes claims that the victim was intoxicated the night of the incident, citing blood tests, and questions why Winston’s name wasn’t added to the police report once he was identified as a suspect in January, and why the State Attorney’s office wasn’t informed of the case until the media (namely, the Tampa Bay Times) began asking questions some 11 months after the incident occurred.
So here we are again. Winston, of course, has thus far refused to answer questions about the case, which is his right, and his attorneys have maintained his innocence, which is also his right. And it’s certainly possible that he is innocent. Like any other person accused of a crime, he deserves presumed innocence until it’s proven otherwise.
The accuser, though, deserves a proper investigation, and it doesn’t take a presumption of guilt to ask why, if the victim’s family is being truthful, an investigator would warn a potential sexual assault victim that her life would turn into living hell if she pursued legal remedies against the perpetrator, high-profile football player or not. Nor does it take a presumption of guilt to ask why police haven’t followed through with the investigation, why they haven’t questioned Winston and other potential witnesses, why there hasn’t been a DNA test, and why Winston’s attorney found out about the investigation before the State Attorney’s office did.