The New York Times published an article on Wednesday that blasts the lack of any real investigation done by Florida State and the Tallahassee Police Department into the rape allegations leveled at Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston.
The article states that “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.” State Attorney Willie Meggs is quoted as saying that the police, “Just missed all the basic fundamental stuff that you are supposed to do.” Meggs was also upset by the fact that the police waited two weeks to finally contact Winston after the accuser identified him as her attacker, and only did so by phone, not with a formal, in-person interview.
Also, police failed to follow up with possible witnesses, one of whom apparently videotaped part of the encounter. On top of that, they never obtained his DNA and the detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report, then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser. That meant that by the time the case finally got to a prosecutor 11 months later, most of the evidence in the case had disappeared, including the video of the act.
The Times also reports that a second woman sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Winston, though did not accuse him of rape. Winston declined to comment on the article, but his attorney said, “We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise, to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady.”
The article also details that while the accuser was giving her account to police soon after the alleged assault, bruises began to appear on her body, indicating recent trauma.
Records also show that Florida State’s athletic department knew about the rape accusation in January of 2013 (the incident took place on December 7, 2012). The assistant athletic director called police to inquire about the case, but the university did nothing about it and allowed Winston to play a full season without discussing the case with him. After the BCS Championship Game in January of this year, university officials finally asked him to discuss the case, but he declined on the advice of his lawyer.
Here’s the kicker: university officials may have violated federal law by not rapidly investigating either the rape accusation or the witness’s admission that he videotaped part of the encounter.
Whether you believe Winston’s account or not, this is a complete outrage. At best Florida State was (likely) criminally negligent in the way it handled things, at worst the school covered up a potential rape by a star athlete. Either way the university and the police department need to be held responsible.