Thursday afternoon Florida prosecutors announced that Jameis Winston, quarterback for Florida State University Seminoles, will not be arrested in an investigation into rape allegations last year.
Prosecutors say key factors in their decision includes the accuser’s recollection of events during the December 2012 incident. The accuser alleged Winston raped her after she had been drinking with friends at a bar, according to Willie Meggs, the state attorney.
“We have a duty as prosecutors to only file … charges if we have a reasonable likelihood of a conviction,” he said. “We did not feel we could meet that burden.”
Meggs also stated that investigators did not have even probable cause to arrest Winston, which requires a low standard of proof.
Defense attorney Tim Jansen described Winston’s reaction in a press conference later in the afternoon: “He was very happy. I can tell you he gave me a hug.”
After hearing the news, Winston thanked his family, friends, coaches and teammates for standing by him and Meggs’ office for “reaching a decision in a conclusive manner.”
“It’s been difficult to stay silent through this process, but I never lost faith in the truth and in who I am,” Winston’s statement said.
The accuser’s family and others have accused authorities of allowing football interests to dictate the pace and depth of the investigation — Winston is a Heisman Trophy hopeful set to play for a conference championship this weekend and possibly a national championship thereafter — but Meggs brushed off the insinuation.
“We worked as fast as we could with the time constraints that we have,” he said.
While the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation, which the accuser’s family has publicly criticized, “could have been handled better,” Meggs said, there was nothing that would necessitate an investigation of the department.
Asked specifically about the delay in collecting Winston’s DNA, Meggs called it “immaterial” because Winston’s DNA matched the DNA on the accuser’s underwear. It wasn’t a matter of whether Winston and the accuser had sex, Meggs said; it was a matter of whether it was a “forceful act.”
Another DNA sample was found on the accuser’s shorts, Meggs said, but he wouldn’t say who it belonged to.
He did, however, say the accuser “acknowledged having sex with her boyfriend, but she wouldn’t tell me who her boyfriend was.” Investigators were able to determine his identity later, he said.
The alleged victim was an FSU student, but she left school last month.