Report: FSU QB rape investigation flawed

Florida State garnet quarterback Jameis Winston looks for a receiver as he scrambles in the second half of an NCAA college spring football game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston looks for a receiver as he scrambles in the second half of an NCAA college spring football game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Lady Justice may wear a blindfold, but criminal investigators are supposed to keep their eyes wide open.

That’s not always the case when the suspect is rich, powerful, famous or playing for the hometown football team.

The New York Times unleashed Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Walt Bogdanich on the Tallahassee police department’s investigation of a rape allegation against star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and the results are what you might expect.

The NYT “found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

Winston, who will be a sophomore this upcoming season, is one of college football’s most famous and talented players. As a freshman he became the youngest Heisman Trophy ever and led the Seminoles to a national championship.

Winston’s fame may have affected investigators’ zeal during their investigation. The chief investigator in the rape case, who also does private security work for the Seminole Boosters, the primary financier of Florida State athletics, allegedly said testing the star quarterback’s DNA “might generate [unwanted] publicity.”

The New York Times story uncovers more disturbing facts:

  • FSU knew about the rape allegation in January of 2013, about a month after the Dec. 6, 2012, incident and a full year before the Seminoles won the national championship, but did not question Winston.
  • After the championship game in 2014, FSU asked Winston to answer questions about the allegations but he declined.
  • Police did not follow “obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter.”
  • Police did not ask for security video from a bar where the alleged victim said she met Winston.
  • Police said they had “no lead” on the rape suspect for about a month, but the accuser called a detective and identified her alleged attacker by name Jan. 10, saying she saw him on campus.
  • Once Winston was identified as a suspect, police did not attempt to interview him for two weeks and never obtained a DNA sample.
  • Police contacted Winston by phone, which is highly unusual, and Winston said he could not talk to them because of baseball practice. He hired a lawyer and never spoke to police.
  • The detective handling the case suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser.
  • Winston’s accuser filed an internal-affairs complaint, saying Tallahassee police investigated her instead of the football player and prematurely dropped the case. That complaint was dropped.
  • When the prosecutor eventually got the case, important evidence, including the video of the sexual act, had disappeared.
  • Prosecutors were forced to conduct much of the investigation that police failed to accomplish, including getting a DNA test, which indicated sperm found in the bruised woman’s underwear was from Winston.

Sexual assault charges were eventually dropped because prosecutors did not believe a trial would result in a conviction.

Florida Chief Assistant Attorney Georgia Cappleman told the Times, “I believe that Mr. Winston cannot be convicted. I don’t necessarily believe that he’s innocent.”

Winston’s Atlanta-based attorney, David Cornwell, told the Times, “We don’t need an investigation … to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady.”

How about a third quote by a person who died thousands of years ago?

“Laws are like spider webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones,” the philosopher Anacharsis allegedly said circa 600 B.C.

I wonder why there are no statues of that guy outside U.S. courthouses?

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54 comments Add your comment

joe

April 17th, 2014
10:41 am

Shocking that a football star is getting a free pass by the entire school/town. I read somewhere that two of his buddies are lining up to take the fall…and will be driving brand new Escalades pretty soon around campus. Stinks to high heaven…

Glenn

April 17th, 2014
11:15 am

Is there anyone out there, other than me, who expects that there will be an out-of-court settlement to make this whole thing go away?

andrech3

April 17th, 2014
11:19 am

Laws are like spider webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones,” the philosopher Anacharsis allegedly said circa 600 B.C….Winston should be in jail.

RangeRover

April 17th, 2014
11:19 am

FSU: from “Free Shoes University” to now Forced Snatch University.

Sad.

Huh?

April 17th, 2014
11:22 am

“Police said they had “no lead” on the rape suspect for about a month, but the accuser called a detective and identified her alleged attacker by name Jan. 10, saying she saw him on campus.”

Well if the alleged assault happened on Dec 6th, and the alleged victim reported a name on Jan 10th, one would assume that there was “no lead” for about a month. What am I missing here?

“Prosecutors were forced to conduct much of the investigation that police failed to accomplish, including getting a DNA test, which indicated sperm found in the bruised woman’s underwear was from Winston.” This is misleading because there was also semen from a guy she was dating found too.

“Once Winston was identified as a suspect, police did not attempt to interview him for two weeks and never obtained a DNA sample.”
Maybe they were ensuring they had their ducks in a row knowing that the media circus would be fully aroused as soon as his name was investigated?

“After the championship game in 2014, FSU asked Winston to answer questions about the allegations but he declined.” Do you blame him? He was already “cleared” and any comments made during investigation could only be used in Civil Court.

I am not saying he is innocent or that there was no wrongdoing, but is this really a story?

George Mathis

April 17th, 2014
11:30 am

Huh – Police said they had no lead, but never bothered to do the basics in the investigation. Many say the police should have been able to figure out who the suspect was on the same day the incident was reported.

How is it misleading to state a fact? Sperm from Winston was in the underwear. I don’t think the NYT story mentions anyone else’s DNA being in the underwear … but that doesn’t invalidate the fact.

Maybe the police waited so long because they didn’t really care to do a thorough job.

FSU should have asked sooner. I don’t blame Winston for hiring a lawyer and keeping his mouth shut.

I think this is a story, obviously, or I would not have spent time writing it up for you to read! But thanks for your comments, they are valid points.

corndawg

April 17th, 2014
11:35 am

You still don’t know where she let him or not….so until you do get all the facts stop throwing stones. Everything is not always the way it looks…. Remember Samson.
The school has nothing to do with it . Same thing happen at UGA years ago and nothing was done.
Even our White House picks which laws it wants to enforce instead of all the laws. That is wrong.
All said the Police drop the ball by not getting all the facts.

The Geezer

April 17th, 2014
11:36 am

Well they waited until after the national championship game and that is the important thing to FSU, isn’t it? I mean if FSU starts put a woman’s rights ahead of football, what would it lead to in Tallahassee?

corndawg

April 17th, 2014
11:37 am

He said he had sex with her but she let him=sperm in underwear.

corndawg

April 17th, 2014
11:39 am

A year past. They didn’t know they would be playing for a National Championship. ???

corndawg

April 17th, 2014
11:42 am

Thanks George Mathis for story…keep up the good work.

Huh?

April 17th, 2014
11:50 am

George Mathis

First of all thanks for responding- I should have been more clear, I don’t blame you for this article, because of the original article it is national headlines again. You are just covering the article. It seems the NYT is having a slow cycle and knows that this will bring attention and hits, maybe another award.

In the beginning, police were hesitant due to the alleged victim being wishy washy and was hesitant to even report it. It has been a while since I have studied the case and the report, but I believe she didn’t even want to report it her friend did. When it was reported there was very little details she could give to provide a direction for the investigation. Could they have done more? Probably… But I think the bigger question should be could they or should they have done more when they had a true lead. I think that is where the true misses may have happened.

Stating a fact is misleading when you leave a big part of it off. For example- you catch your child in the halloween candy. You ask how mush she has had. She tells you one hershey bar, but neglects to tell you 3 reeces, two packs of candy corn, and a candy apple. Or in football terms you brag on a QB that threw for 300 yds. But leave off the 4 ints, 2 fumbles, and the team lost by 24 pts.

I do enjoy a good debate!

armydawg

April 17th, 2014
11:50 am

I said all along that no elected official in Tallahassee would prosecute Winston and keep his or her job. Now we know the same thing about the appointed police chief and his department. I think a major law suit in federal court is in order, against Winston, FSU and the legal establishment in Tallahassee.

...And Justice For All

April 17th, 2014
11:54 am

Ok,

In spite of situations like:

1. O J Simpson
2. Casey Anthony
3. George Zimmerman et al

We have one of the best justice systems in the world – you must be proven guilty of a crime in a court of law.

With that being sad…it is disgusting and appalling that FSU and the local Police dropped the ball in investigating and charging Mr. Winston’s rape allegations.

This is someone’s daughter – if this were your daughter how would you feel?

I’ve said this time and time again – sometimes it’s not about race in our society but about fame and class.

This was a young man that FSU and some of the Florida police force knew had talent and could bring some prestige back to FSU – so as a result of that perception, Mr. Winston got a free pass.

Like it our not LIFE IS NOT FAIR – FSU and some of the local police officer should be ashamed of how they handle this case.

UNBELIEVABLE………………

...And Justice For All

April 17th, 2014
11:58 am

P.S. The victim should sue the *&(^ out of FSU, Mr. Winston, and the police.

I hope she does.

LIFE IS NOT FAIR – but as the old saying goes KARMA IS A *&!#@

Huh?

April 17th, 2014
12:00 pm

…And Justice For All I remember when this was happening the question often came up “What if it was daughter?”

Let me ask you, what if it was your son? Hypothetically let’s say she was a willing participant. What if this was your son… There was 0 proof or evidence of assault. It was he said/she said.

He may very well be guilty, FSU and Local Police may have messed up the investigation, but even if they did everything right, what if it offered the same outcome?

Huh?

April 17th, 2014
12:02 pm

…And Justice For All The Civil Case is already in works… If this story remains hot, Winston’s stock may fall and eventually cost the girl some money. The higher his stock, the more she gets. Either way they both lose or win together now…

On My Way

April 17th, 2014
12:04 pm

Nothing new here. Winston admitted to having consensual sex with the woman and had witnesses there corroborate. The alleged victim was contacted and she did not follow up. Only after FSU was heading toward a national championship did this surface with the alleged victim claiming injustice.

...And Justice For All

April 17th, 2014
12:07 pm

@HUH?

See you made an excellent point.

Let me ask you, what if it was your son? Hypothetically let’s say she was a willing participant. What if this was your son… There was 0 proof or evidence of assault. It was he said/she said.

If it was my son – I say charge him – if he is innocent – then he would not be sent to jail; however, if he is guilty – even though it would hurt like hell – he must do the time.

If my son came home and told me he just robbed a bank – guess what – I am marching his &^% right down to the police station to turn him in.

But I know all parents are not like me.

Bottom line is any one can accuse other person of a crime – but if there’s no proof – guess what – right or wrong the person will walk free.

I know there’s exceptions – but that’s how our justice system is supposed to work.

...And Justice For All

April 17th, 2014
12:09 pm

All the victim wanted was her day in court.

That’s it – if there’s no proof – then he walks.

Ask Kobe Bryant.

who

April 17th, 2014
12:22 pm

If he was a white Duke lacrosse player you’d better believe they would’ve gotten this investigation correct. Obama would have dispatched Eric Holder and the entire justice department to double check this one.

Derrick

April 17th, 2014
12:25 pm

All I can say is our justice system is not perfect but if I do believe everyone is “innocent until proven guilty” and there has not been enough proof to prove what really happen other than 2 adults having sex. Maybe something bad did happen and maybe it didn’t but we will never know. The one thing I know is we have to stop with this everyone is guilty till proven innocent that is not what our justice system stands for nor how it was founded!

Coach T

April 17th, 2014
12:26 pm

Its funny how some people are just taking this female side and don’t know the story. It could be a situation where her whole intent was to set up a well known football player to get something out of it. Come on now. Well put And Justice For All

Bumper

April 17th, 2014
12:28 pm

It concerns me greatly that it took a NYT reporter to uncover this crap. I lived in Tallahassee and I’ve always respected the local newspaper, the Democrat, but this is their home turf and they should’ve been on top of this.

...And Justice For All

April 17th, 2014
12:34 pm

@who

I Knew it would not be long before President Obama’s name would be tied to this.

Come on – it’s not always about race – sometimes it’s about how famous you are or how deep your pockets go.

@ Coach T – I am am basing my opinions on the independant report. The police stated that the victim did not want to persue charges – but according to the report – that was not the case.

You said, “It could be a situation where her whole intent was to set up a well known football player to get something out of it.”

You see that’s my point – If I don’t like someone and I want to set him/her up – I can go down to the local police and make accusations —but in a court of law I have to prove that my charges are based on facts and not fiction.

That’s why our justice system was designed – you are innocent until proven guilty.

There was enought evidence to charge Winston – but if he was truley innocent – then witnesses could have come forward – maybe the alleged video of the act could have been played – either way the victim did not get her day in court and so I am on the side of justice that’s all..

Huh?

April 17th, 2014
12:45 pm

It was much later when she came forward to press charges, then would not respond for a while to investigators.

Plus- he was not a well known football player at the time. He was a redshirt freshman. He had not thrown a pitch for the baseball team or even played in a football game. He did not win the starting job until late summer. He was a highly rated recruit, but at a place like FSU or Bama, or UGA most recruits are high rated.

USC Jimi

April 17th, 2014
12:57 pm

If she were my daughter I would probably be the one in jail. This young man would have to have won the Heisman with a limp.

bucket

April 17th, 2014
1:08 pm

gadem

April 17th, 2014
1:12 pm

He should be under the jail…

Mike

April 17th, 2014
1:39 pm

Interesting how all blame the football player. The girl did something while she was drunk. How do you go to a football school and not know who the players are especially the quarterback. This is not a low division program. And for those making threats, you can just drive on down to FSU and state your beliefs and intentions, I am quite sure those football players would like to give you the opportunity to express yourself. Maybe if parents would trying instilling some values in their kids, they would not have problems like this.

Hillary's Food Taster

April 17th, 2014
2:28 pm

If he played for UGA, Auburn, Bama or any of the other Big Time Football factories he would have been suspended for the first half in the big game against The Electoral College. Face it. There are two Americas. One set of laws for peons and another for Big Shots. Both Mike Tyson and one of the Kennedy clan were charged with rape. Guess which one walked. As Leona Helmsley said: Laws are for Little People.

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
3:24 pm

This story smells of a Penn State cover up. The fact that they could not identify Chris early on as well as get bar footage and cab interviews is really pathetic.

Add into it that Winston had another encounter go sour and the whole story is a joke. FSU and local officals knew that if they dug in deep there was a least merit for a trial and thus no national title.

Also, calling the kid to discuss the allegations is pathetic. “Hold on I’ll talk after practice”. This allows him to lawyer up and clean up even without the 10 day grace period they gave him.

NCAA should slap FSU with penalties like Penn State.

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
3:27 pm

Mike…no one blames for anything but being a creep…yet but I think everyone should blame FSU and the local authorities for not doing a proper investigation.

The teo things other then the timeline that stood out was the accuser had a friend testify that she was call the morning of, also the fact that another person sought counseling after an encounter with Winston.

There seems like plenty of circumstantial evidence to pursure REAL evidence further but the DA would not get reelected if she pursues it. If she had pursued it Winston would have not played the BCS game and FSU would have lost.

Don't Tread

April 17th, 2014
3:28 pm

Either it was rape or it wasn’t…but either way, somebody’s kid wasn’t raised right.

My first guess would be “all of them”.

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
3:30 pm

Why erase the one peice of evidence that might prove innocence if you are Winston? The cell phone video. What a bunch of low lifes regardless.

Any NFL team that drafts this clown is shameful. Also the FSU fanbase sending hate mail to defend Winston is Penn Stateesque.

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
3:32 pm

Dont tread…that girl was potentially doing what college kids do which is kit the bars. She claims she blacked out. her firend claims the same.

I think prosecuters need to relook at this case. May be too late since no cabbie interview, no video on cell and no bar videos mysteriously.

gatorboy62

April 17th, 2014
3:35 pm

I sure all the FSU fans are proud.

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
3:37 pm

A lot of schools are guilty of what FSU like Penn State or Alabama in different ways. Alabama has had an 80 year history of winning at all cost with a coaching lineage of Bear, Stalling, Dubose and Saban (and an assistant staff of Danny Ford, Jackie Sherril, Charlie Pell, Howard Scnellenger).

Penn State should not even have a football team right now. Their fans deserve an SMU fate. The NCAA should look at FSU and see if instotutional control happened here.

Don't Tread

April 17th, 2014
3:40 pm

“Doing what college kids do” is not an acceptable excuse or justification for lack of a moral compass. Neither are “I want the hometown team to win the championship” or “I don’t feel like investigating this case” or “I’m a top college football player”.

Rooty Tooty

April 17th, 2014
3:51 pm

Are you really surprised? Most schools and coaches will do anything to win.

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
4:00 pm

Girl going to a bar and drinking underage is not a lack of a moral compass. Boning a girl and having buddies film is.

RiffRaff

April 17th, 2014
4:08 pm

FSU has always had a bad rap. Seminoles = Criminals

Dub

April 17th, 2014
4:08 pm

Read the NYT article first…then comment. If you read the NYT article I bet you will have some serious questions about Winston. PLUS this is his second “incident” with a female alerting someone (for those who will not read the article another young lady contacted a grief counselor after an encounter with Winston but didn’t want to press any kind of charges)

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
4:17 pm

This article should not be swept under the rug but it will. FSU will laud their title and Winston will go on to be a 1st overall pick.

Funny

April 17th, 2014
4:27 pm

LOL! There is so much more to the story. They don’t want to make her look bad. She won’t sue Winston because it will all come out then. She will sue the PD and FSU. The Cleat Chaser wasn’t drunk, didn’t have the date rape drug in her system as the article tries to imply. She can’t remember anything unless it is to her benefit, but she remembers the Door was broken and couldn’t lock? If you’re drunk or on roofies you wouldn’t remember that. And you sure wouldn’t be able to hold on to someone on the back of a scooter if you couldn’t dress yourself and he had too.

Jack Mehoff

April 17th, 2014
4:31 pm

Funny…i believe the other two players said the door was broke…not her. She may have been lying but we will never know thanks to the school, PD, local bar and buddies who deleted either incriminating evidence or meaningful alibi.

We will also not know because it took her too long to identiufy which is very fishy, but it could be due to her not wanting the pressure that she eventually got from hate mail. Wasnt her picture sent around?

Funny

April 17th, 2014
4:58 pm

@Jack

Read the Report from the DA. She states it too.

You are correct. They did mess up the investigation but I don’t believe he raped her based on the gaps and inconsistencies in her story. NYT wants to tell a sensational story. They imply she may have been given the date rape drug by stating “she was given a drink by an unknown person. They ran a tox screen. None was found. That was conveniently left out of the story.

heartofdarkness

April 17th, 2014
5:13 pm

Perhaps there is a federal civil suit here for denial of equal protection and civil rights under relevant federal statutes against the parties charged with performing a full, competent and vigorous investigation. The NYT story certainly reads like a brief for such an effort.

Bobby B.

April 17th, 2014
6:13 pm

My philosophy always was “boys will be boys.”

Gene

April 17th, 2014
6:22 pm

Good article, George Mathis.