The woman who accused Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston plans to sue the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and the Tallahassee Police Department in separate civil cases, the woman’s attorney said Wednesday in an interview with ABC News. The woman’s family may also sue Florida State University.
“Absolutely you’re going to see a civil suit,” Patricia Carroll, the attorney, said. “You can not have law enforcement that is not held accountable.”
“The family is proceeding, with civil action against the TPD and Jameis Winston. And possibly the university,” she added.
The Florida State Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges against Winston in December, more than a year after the woman claimed to police that she had been raped. She later identified Winston as her assaulter. State attorney William Meggs said then that he did not have enough evidence to file charges against the quarterback and alluded to the fact that the Tallahassee Police Department’s handling of the case — it did not immediately report it to the SAO, for instance — could have complicated it.
A week after the Meggs decided not to bring charges, Carroll delivered a blistering response to both his and the TPD’s handling of the case, calling it a “complete failure of an investigation of a rape case” and saying that she believed Winston’s status as a football player affected the way it was investigated. Among Carroll’s complaints against the TPD were that the lead investigator, detective Scott Angulo, failed to conduct tests for date-rape drugs, failed to record his interviews with the victim into police reports, and did not execute a warrant to conduct DNA tests on Winston once he was identified as a suspect.
Tallahassee police chief Tom Coe said in December that his department “took the case seriously, processed evidence and conducted an investigation based on information available at that time.”
A civil suit against Winston, according to Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, would require the alleged victim to identify herself and would compel Winston to testify. Such a suit could lead Winston to settle in order to avoid a costly and potentially damaging civil trial or could lead to a countersuit from Winston alleging defamation against his victim, McCann wrote. The suit against the TPD would claim that the department intentionally mishandled the case, while, according to McCann, a suit against Florida State would likely claim that the school failed “to adequately monitor its star quarterback and (failed) to protect another of its students from sexual assault.” McCann believes a claim against FSU would most likely end unsuccessfully.
Little more than a week after Meggs decided not to charge Winston, the quarterback won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player. He led Florida State to its first national championship since 2001 Monday.