Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs announced during a press conference Dec. 5 that sexual assault charges will not be filed against Florida State University freshman quarterback Jameis Winston.
Reports had surfaced weeks ago that Winston, the top candidate to win this year’s Heisman trophy, had been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Tallahassee, Fla. in December 2012. Though the woman chose not to press charges, Tallahassee police considered proceeding charges anyway after DNA evidence linked Winston to the woman.
Winston’s attorney told the media that his client had consensual sex with the accuser, which explained the DNA evidence discovered. But the woman’s family attorney told reporters that her client was definitely raped by Winston, and after she alerted local authorities of what happened, she was warned that Tallahassee is “a big football town” and reporting her rape would make her life “miserable.”
Speculation circulated around whether Winston would be disqualified from his Heisman candidacy. Many Heisman voters said they will not vote for the young African-American quarterback if criminal charges are filed against him. However, that cloud was lifted from Winston’s head Dec. 5 when Meggs told reporters there wasn’t enough evidence available to indict Winston on any sexual assault charges.
“I did not find her as a witness that we believe we could put on the stand and vouch for…and count on her to prove our elements of a crime,” Meggs said. “We hear this all the time, when it comes to he say/she say defense…It becomes a matter of credibility.”
The accuser’s attorney released a statement to the media in reaction to Megg’s decision not to file charges against Winston.
“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.”