Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston will face no criminal charges related to allegations of sexual assault, state attorney William Meggs said. Meggs announced at a press conference on Thursday that he and his team have “carefully examined all the evidence in this case and have concluded that no charges will be brought against anyone in this case.”
Winston was accused of raping a female FSU student in December 2012 but was not accused by name until about a month later, in January. Evidence including DNA that was collected on the night of the alleged assault was sent to laboratories on January 14, and results from the tests came back positive in February and March. Winston and the complainant did, in fact, have a sexual encounter in December, but after a three-week investigation, the Florida state attorney was unable to find grounds to continue with a criminal prosecution.
Since DNA evidence alone was not enough to move forward with a trial, it appears as if the case hinged on the testimony of a few witnesses, including the complainant herself. According to documents released by the Tallahassee Police Department on Thursday, there were at least four different accounts of the event given to investigators. Two of them were given by the complainant and two by her friends. Part of the reason for the disparity is that the complainant had been drinking on the night of the alleged assault, and her memory is incomplete.
Winston’s lawyer, Tim Jansen, argued that sexual contact between Winston and the complainant was consensual.
The case was thrust into the national spotlight in November, when it was picked up by the state attorney for Florida. Part of the reason for the media attention cast surrounding the case is that Winston, a redshirt freshman at FSU, is on track to become the second consecutive freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. His team, the Seminoles, is favored to win against Duke in an upcoming game. After that, the team is one victory away from heading to the BCS National Championship.
The team’s reputation — in the bottom-right quadrant of The Wall Street Journal’s College Football’s Grid of Shame — and the relatively short duration of the investigation (three weeks) raised some red flags among observers. Meggs, the Florida state attorney, addressed these concerns directly in a Thursday press conference.