State Attorney Willie Meggs closed the case against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston on Thursday, saying that the flaws in the accuser's story made it virtually impossible to bring a conviction.
Meggs said the timing of the decision to not bring charges against the 19-year-old Heisman Trophy candidate had nothing to do with the Heisman voting, which ends Monday, or the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game that takes place Saturday.
He said, he did not believe he had the evidence to show that a sexual assault took place as the female Florida State University student alleged after the sexual encounter Dec. 7, 2012, at Winston’s off-campus apartment.
“We came to a decision that it was not a case we could bring forward because we would not have the burden of proof, the probable cause and the reasonable likelihood of a conviction,” Meggs said at a news conference. “We did not feel we had sufficient evidence to prove that it was not consensual.”
Meggs said he will make public the documents relating to his closed investigation by Friday afternoon.
A written statement by the alleged victim released by police Thursday indicates that she told police that she was at a local college bar with her friends drinking shots, and “next thing I know I'm in the back of a taxi with a random guy I have never met.”
She said there was another person in the taxi and they went to an apartment. “I kept telling him to stop but he took all my clothes off,” the statement said. “He started having sex with me and then his roommate came in and told him to stop. He moved us to the bathroom because the door locked, and I’m not 100% sure how everything in there happened.”
Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen, has repeatedly said the the sex was consensual and affidavits from witnesses in Winston's aparment that night confirmed that.
“Her story just does not add up,” Jansen said at a news conference Thursday. “We’re completely satisfied this is done. We can move forward.”
A trigger in Megg’s decision appears to be the appearance of DNA evidence from a second male, whom the woman did not identify. Lab results released by police on Thursday indicate “presence of a mixture” of DNA from two men on the woman’s pink shorts.
Meggs said the evidence confirmed that Winston's DNA matched a sample found in the womans underwear while the DNA from both Winston and the boyfriend was found on the shorts.
A friend of the accuser, Bria Henry, told the Herald/Times that the accuser’s boyfriend is Jamal Roberts, a redshirt freshman with the Kent State Golden Flashes, who also attended Zephryhills High School with the accuser and Henry.
Henry said she called her friend on the night of the incident after the accuser posted a Twitter message that read: “Somebody help me.”' Henry said when she called “she was boo-hoo crying. She said she was raped. I said, ‘calm down.’”
The accuser told Henry she didn’t know who it was but “she recalled his features — he was buff and had a little fro,” Henry said.
Against the accuser’s wishes, Henry helped contact the girl’s mother, who arrived the next day.
Henry said her friend agreed to take the rape kit test because she was afraid of STDs and, while “she did feel violated,” she was not initially interested in pursuing charges.
“I think she was more convinced by her parents,” she said. “She just wanted it to be over with. She didn't want it to escalate.”
Henry said Roberts had been home in Dade City, along with the accuser, over the Thanksgiving break two weeks prior to the meeting with Winston.
Meggs, who did not name the boyfriend, said he did not cooperate with his office and they relied on a state attorney in Ohio to help them obtain the DNA.
In a statement, Winston thanked Meggs “for examining all the facts.”
“It’s been difficult to stay silent through this process, but I never lost faith in the truth and in who I am,” he said, adding that he looks forward to “continuing my education at Florida State and I'm excited I can now get back to helping our team achieve its goals.”
The Tallahassee Police Department turned the case over to Meggs on Nov. 12 after several media inquiries.
Although the accuser identified Winston as her alledged attacker in January, the police failed to obtain any DNA evidence until Meggs got involved.
Patricia Carroll, the attorney for the woman, whose name has not been released according to Florida's rape shield law, also thanked Meggs for “attempting to conduct a proper investigation after an inordinate delay by the Tallahassee Police Department.”
Carroll continued to place blame on the police department. She said her client “had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice.”
She warned, however, that “the victim has grave concerns that her experience, as it unfolded in the public eye and through social media, will discourage other victims of rape from coming forward and reporting.”
Meggs emphasized that he did not need the accuser’s cooperation to go forward with an assault charge “if we have a case we're going to pursue it” — but in this case there wasn't enough evidence for him to succeed.
Among the problems, he said, were memory lapses but she was not intoxicated and there was no evidence of drugs in her system. “Her recall of the events of that night have been moving around a good bit,”' he said.
Jansen suggested that Winston’s family is considering filing civil charges, possibly against the accuser and the media.
The top-ranked and undefeated Seminoles are playing Duke on Saturday in the ACC championship game. A win would likely put them in college football’s championship game.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said in a statement he was pleased Meggs had “exonerated Jameis in the matter. Right now, we're all looking forward to what we have in front of us on Saturday.”