Jameis Winston won't be charged in sexual assault case
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Jameis Winston, Florida State's quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate, will not be charged with sexually assaulting a woman who accused him of raping her about a year ago, a prosecutor said Thursday.
State Attorney Willie Meggs made the announcement at a news conference, saying there was not enough evidence to win a conviction.
"After reviewing all the evidence in the case, we did not feel like we could meet that burden," Meggs said.
A public record of the investigation will be made available to anyone who requests it, Meggs said.
A woman told police she was raped at an apartment after a night of drinking at a bar, according to a search warrant released hours before the news conference. Meggs said the woman's blood alcohol level at the time a test was administered was .04, well below the legal limit of .08 for drivers. Meggs also said that there was no evidence of drug use in the toxicology reports.
In the warrant, the alleged victim told police she and friends had five to six shots at Potbellys and her "memory is very broken from that point forward." She said she remembered being in a cab with a "non-descript" black man and going into an apartment where she was raped.
The alleged assault took place about a year ago. The woman didn't identify Winston, who is black, until about a month later.
The warrant said she tried to fight the man off, and at some point, another man came into the room and told him to stop. But the two went into a bathroom "where he completed the act."
Her next memory was of the suspect dressing her, putting her on a scooter and dropping her off at a campus intersection. She said she had no idea where the alleged assault took place.
"Her recall of the events of that night have been moving around a good bit," Meggs said Thursday. "There's been some memory lapses."
Meggs said Wednesday his office had "exhausted all investigative tools" since the case was handed over to his office in mid-November. "We have learned as much as we can learn," said Meggs.
The details of the alleged rape were contained in a search warrant for cell phone records, including text messages. It was dated Jan. 16, six days after the woman identified Winston. The warrant said the woman sent multiple text messages after the alleged assault, but it did not say what they said.
In the short time since Meggs' office took over the case, investigators have taken DNA from Winston, interviewed the alleged victim and looked at other evidence.
ESPN reported that DNA found in the accuser's underwear matched Winston. But Winston's attorney, Timothy Jansen, has suggested Winston had consensual sex with the accuser and he expects the prosecutor will exonerate his client.
"There were DNA from males, one was identified as being Winston's, and the other was unknown," Meggs said Thursday.
Meggs confirmed Thursday that Winston's DNA was found in the woman's underwear. The unknown DNA was on the shorts of the person who was wearing them, Meggs said.
Jansen is confident enough that he plans to briefly address the media at 3:30 p.m. Jansen said he still had not heard anything from prosecutors, which suggested it was unlikely any charges will be filed.
Patricia Carroll, the attorney representing the alleged victim, has not responded to requests for comment. Her office is expected to release a brief statement after the prosecutor's announcement.
Winston, 19, has led the Seminoles to a No. 1 ranking and a shot at a national championship if they defeat Duke on Saturday.
Many voters are waiting to see whether Winston will be charged with a crime before casting their ballots. The deadline for ballots is Monday, and the trophy is awarded Dec. 14.
Florida State policy dictates that a student-athlete is suspended from game action if charged with a felony until the charge is resolved "absent extraordinary circumstances as determined by the administration."
Meggs has said he wanted to make sure prosecutors completed a thorough investigation before making a final decision. He has also said several times that prosecutors must determine whether there is a "reasonable" chance of conviction.
Meggs said Wednesday that the investigation results should answer some lingering questions about how the investigation was handled and why it took 11 months before prosecutors were notified.
"When you all look at this, when the dust all settles, you'll say, 'Man, there were some things that could have been done back in December of '12 that could have cleared this up a whole lot easier than November of 2013," he said.
The alleged sexual assault was first reported to police on Dec. 7, 2012. The family has said the alleged victim did not know the identity of her attacker until early January.
Police said last week that they tried to interview Winston in January but that Jansen at the time told them his client would not answer questions.
The family has been sharply critical of the way Tallahassee police have handled the case. They said they pushed to have a DNA sample taken from Winston, only to be told by a police detective that it would alert Winston and make the case public. The family said Carroll was warned by police that Tallahassee is a "big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable."
Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case and said it was placed on inactive status in February after police were told the alleged victim did not wish to prosecute the case. Carroll has denied that the woman wanted to drop the investigation.
The alleged victim was an FSU student, but she left school last month.