As the dust settled on an long and highly-publicized investigation into whether Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston sexually assaulted a young woman, Heisman voters should have been watching and listening closely.
The Florida State Attorney decided not to charge Winston with any crime. That fact alone will sway several Heisman voters who have been waiting on Winston’s innocence or guilt to determine whether he’ll get their Heisman vote.
But for those voters who needed exoneration, State Attorney Willie Meggs didn't provide that, but came as close as he could get without disregarding the feelings of the alleged victim in the case.
“Very little can be profited by disparaging the victim in this case,” Meggs said. “We came to the decision that it was not a case that we could bring forward because we would not have the burden of proof, the probable cause and the reasonable likelihood of a conviction.”
Meggs later said the alleged victim had trouble remembering details of that night and later told ESPN that he didn’t think she would have been a credible witness if the case had gone to trial.
Here’s what we know: Winston had sex with the alleged victim.
Here’s what we learned: The alleged victim also had sex with someone else, a boyfriend, whose DNA was on her clothing, but she refused to identify. DNA results later identified the man as Jamal Roberts. Roberts has no connection to Winston.
Winston’s lawyer has maintained that the sex between Winston and the alleged victim was consensual. Meggs seemed to back that up.
“If we had evidence to prove the elements of the crime of sexual battery, we would have prosecuted the case,” Meggs said.
It’s true that many had their minds made up before the final verdict was in. Former Heisman winner and current voter Desmond Howard told Yahoo Sports he believed no matter the outcome of the case, some voters might have a hard time giving Winston the Heisman for the simple fact that his name was involved at all.
But at the end of the day, voters need to judge Winston on the pillars that the Heisman Trophy Trust outlines in the first sentence of its mission statement:
“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”
Winston has far and away been the best player on the field. And now, with the sexual assault investigation concluded, many can claim that he has demonstrated the integrity the Heisman Trophy Trust values.
If voters can take the results of this case at face value – and there’s no reason they shouldn’t – Winston should be hoisting the Heisman on Dec. 14
- - - - - - -