Cops warned accuser about rape case against Jameis Winston, family says

CNN
Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 9:24am

The family of the accuser in the rape case of Florida State quarterback and Heisman hopeful Jameis Winston said police warned her attorney that Tallahassee is a "big football town" and her life could be miserable if she pursued the case.

The family's statement, which was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times newspaper, also accused a Tallahassee detective of failing to run a proper investigation after the sexual assault complaint was filed in December.

But the Tallahassee Police Department countered that account, saying in a news conference Wednesday that the accuser "broke off contact" with them in February and didn't want to go forward with the case.

Tallahassee Police Department Interim Chief Tom Coe said the case is still open and he could not comment on the specifics.

"We hope to move it forward as quickly as we can in coordination with the state attorney's office and bring closure to it," he said.

No one has been charged in the investigation, but the family's statement, provided by attorney Patricia Carroll, says the alleged victim identified Winston, a redshirt freshman who has led the Seminoles to a No. 2 national ranking, in January.

Winston's lawyer, Tim Jansen, said last week that his client will cooperate with authorities even though he believed the case had been closed for months.

The story became public when some media outlets put in public records requests for the alleged victim's complaint. Tallahassee police have released a heavily redacted incident report documenting a sexual assault allegation in early December 2012.

State Attorney Willie Meggs said Friday that his office learned of the case on November 13. Meggs, state attorney for Florida's 2nd Judicial Circuit, said he believed the case could have been handled differently, but he did not offer specifics.

He said the case is not closed.

"There's people who needed to be located and talked to and, to the best of my knowledge, they haven't been," the prosecutor said.

The family's statement said they never leaked information about the case, a response to Jansen's statement that the timing of the media discovering the case -- in the middle of the college football season -- was "very suspect."

The statement said the reported victim was devastated to learn that Jansen was informed about the complaint in February, giving the attorney time to "create his defense."

"If the victim had been aware that Winston's attorney was alerted as far back as February, she would have insisted that the Tallahassee Police Department immediately collect DNA and interview" Winston's roommate, who the family claims is a witness.

The statement also complained that it took four months before the family heard the results of the alleged victim's blood work.

The Heisman Trophy is awarded in December and goes to the player who voters believe had the best college football season. Winston has thrown for 28 touchdowns for the Seminoles, who are 10-0 and with three more wins could play in January for the national championship.

Winston didn't play during the 2012 season but came to Florida State as one of the nation's top quarterback recruits, according to recruiting rankings.

Florida State has said university officials cannot comment on an open investigation.

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