The Heisman Trophy and Florida State’s national championship hopes could be hanging in the balance Thursday when a prosecutor investigating sexual assault allegations against Seminoles’ quarterback Jameis Winston reveals his findings.
State attorney Willie Meggs said Wednesday that he will announce the results of his investigation into the allegations against Winston, FSU’s standout quarterback and a leading Heisman contender, at 2 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re going to make an announcement at 2,” he said. “We’ll reveal all that we can reveal.”
Winston, who was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year on Wednesday, is scheduled to fly to Charlotte, N.C., for Saturday’s ACC title game later Thursday.
The Seminoles are ranked No.1 in the nation and a victory over Duke on Saturday would put them in the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
Meggs, who took over the investigation three weeks ago from the Tallahassee Police Department, said the timing of the team’s departure did not factor into his scheduling of the announcement.
Winston has been the focus of national media scrutiny since it was revealed that he was the subject of a sexual assault investigation stemming from a Dec. 7, 2012, incident at an off-campus apartment.
Many Heisman voters have refrained from casting their ballots as they await the results of the investigation. The deadline for ballots to be submitted is Dec. 9.
Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen of Tallahassee, said he is confident that the evidence Meggs reviewed will exonerate Winston.
“I don’t know all the evidence that he has reviewed,” he said. “We’re not privy to everything. We are confident that it will show that Mr. Winston did nothing wrong.”
Jansen said he hopes to make Winston available to the media after Meggs’ announcement.
“He will not answer specific questions, but he will make a comment,” he said. “It will depend on what Mr. Meggs does.”
Although the women identified Winston on Jan.10, police did not obtain DNA evidence from Winston until Nov. 14. Jansen confirmed that Winston’s DNA matched the evidence gathered by investigators on the night of the incident, but said that the sex between Winston and the accuser was consensual.
A lawyer for the 19-year-old woman who filed the complaint said in a statement that police had warned her that pursuing the allegation against Winston would subject her to ridicule and scorn in the football-dominant town.
The police say they did not continue to pursue the case after the accuser and her lawyer stopped contact with them. The accuser’s lawyer denied that characterization in a statement and blame the delay on the police’s failure to pursue the investigation.
The case was turned over to Meggs last month after the Tampa Bay Times inquired about it.