Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will not be charged by Florida state attorney Willie Meggs in the sexual assault case involving the quarterback.
Meggs announced on Thursday that he has decided to not charge Winston in the incident from Dec. 7, 2012 in which a woman said that she was sexually assaulted by Winston. The case was reignited in November after an 11-month delay, but after the investigation Meggs said that there was not sufficient evidence to proceed with the case.
"We have a duty as prosecutors to only file those charges if we have a reasonable likelihood of a conviction. After reviewing all of the evidence in the case, we feel that we could not meet that burden," Meggs said.
Wednesday afternoon, Winston released a statement.
"I want to thank my family, friends, coaches and teammates for standing by me during a difficult time," he said. "I also want to thand the State Attorney's Office for examining all of the facts and reaching a decision in a conclusive manner. It's been difficult to stay silent through this process, but I never lost faith in the truth and in who I am. I'm very relieved I'll be able to continue my education at Florida State and I'm excited I can now get back to helping our team achieve its goals."
Florida State is set to travel to Charlotte N.C., on Thursday evening for the ACC Championship game against Duke. Winston will be with the team for the game and any ensuing bowl game.
"As you might imagine, I was pleased to hear that the State Attorney's Office exonerated Jameis in the matter," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement. "I'm not going to answer any questions about the situation, but I would like to point out that our community and our university are blessed to have really good people in place to review matters like this. I know Jameis is pleased he can focus on being a student at a great university and he's excited about helping our team achieve its goals this year. Right now, we're all looking forward to what we have in front of us on Saturday."
Meggs also said that the case is closed.
Winston's attorney said that the sex was consensual after a DNA sample taken from Winston in November matched the one taken from the accuser in the hours after the assault was reported. However, there was also a second DNA profile found on the alleged victim's shorts. Per the investigation documents, Winston "was excluded as the source of the DNA profile from the victim's shorts and could not be either included or excluded as a contributor to the foreign DNA profile recovered from the victim's face [based on the limited nature of the profile obtained from the victim's face]."
In an interview with ESPN after his press conference, Meggs called the presence of that second DNA profile "vitally important" to the investigation and the decision.
The woman also released a statement:
"The victim and her family appreciate the State Attorney’s efforts in attempting to conduct a proper investigation after an inordinate delay by the Tallahassee Police Department. The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice. The victim has grave concerns that her experience, as it unfolded in the public eye and through social media, will discourage other victims of rape from coming forward and reporting.”
In a media availability after Meggs' press conference, Winston's attorney Tim Jansen didn't rule out a possible civil suit on Winston's behalf in the future.
The Tallahassee Police Department took the case from the Florida State police immediately after the police report was filed and the family of the woman released a statement in November saying that the detective involved in the investigation told her that her life could be made miserable if she proceeded with the matter and "to think long and hard."
The department also released a timeline of its actions in the case, and said that the case was classified as open but inactive on Feb. 11 and would be pursued further if the alleged victim decided to press charges. Per the documents, "The case was left in suspended status because probable cause could not be established given the conflicting statements between what the victim told her friends and what was reported to police. In addition, the victim was unwilling to pursue criminal charges at that time. Based on these facts and the fact it did not meet statutory requirements for prosecutorial review [domestic related incidents], the case was not submitted to the Office of the State Attorney."
- - - - - - -
- Crime & Justice
- Society & Culture