Police in football-mad Tallahassee, Florida, told a woman who accused Florida State’s quarterback of sexual assault that her life would “be made miserable” if she pursued charges against the star player.
An attorney for the woman and her family released a statement Wednesday about the detective’s comments in connection with the investigation of Heisman Trophy candidate Jameis Winston.
"When the attorney contacted Detective (Scott) Angulo immediately after Winston was identified, Detective Angulo told the attorney that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable," the family said.
The 19-year-old Winston has not been charged with a crime and his attorney has denied any wrongdoing by the player.
The Tampa Bay-area woman who attended Florida State told police that Winston sexually assaulted her Dec. 7, and reports surfaced last week about the investigation.
Prosecutors said the case, which the woman reported about two hours after the alleged attack, would not be presented before a grand jury, although they will decide by the end of the month whether to file charges.
"I'm not stupid," said State Attorney William Meggs. "It is a young man whose life is in a fish bowl right now. I think about that. There's also a young girl whose life has been turned upside down, and her life will never be the same, either. We look at it and say, 'Which one of those is most important?' Both. It is a search for the truth, and the truth is kind of elusive sometimes."
The police report described the assailant as being between 5 feet 9 and 5 feet 11 inches tall – which is about 5 inches shorter than Winston – but the woman identified the quarterback in January as the suspect.
An analysis completed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Tuesday confirmed that a DNA sample provided by Winston matched a sample taken from the woman’s underwear.
That DNA match alone does not prove a sexual assault took place, but it does indicate that his sample matches one collected as part of the rape investigation undertaken shortly after the alleged sexual assault.
The woman’s family claims that Angulo refused to collect the player’s DNA or interview his roommate, a possible witness, to prevent the case from going public and to keep Winston from learning about the allegations.
Winston still has not talked to Tallahassee police or the state attorney investigating the case, but the woman’s family claims his attorney was told in February that the case had been closed while her attorney waited four months to receive the woman’s blood work.
"The victim was devastated when she learned late last week that the Tallahassee Police Department had informed Winston's attorney as far back as February, which allowed him all of this time to create his defense and prepare his witnesses," the family said. "The victim cannot fathom that the State Attorney's Office was not given the same opportunity."
A public records request shows that no search warrants were executed under Winston’s name and no public search warrants related to sex crimes were executed at the building where he reportedly lives.
The request also shows that no search warrants have been executed in the case since it was reported earlier this month.
Tallahassee Police Chief Tom Coe said Wednesday the case went inactive in February at the victim’s request, but the woman’s family said she and her attorney made themselves available at all times to assist the investigation.
The state attorney said he felt certain his office could properly investigate the case nearly a year after it took place and was reported.
“I'm pretty confident, as much as anybody can be,” Meggs said. “There are two kinds of evidence: testimonial and physical. We'll have what we have at the end of the day and then we'll evaluate what we have.”
Watch this video report posted online by ESPN:
[Image via Wikipedia Commons]