Fans rally behind Florida State quarterback accused of rape
Florida State fans rallied behind a star quarterback who’s facing possible rape charges in the last home game of the season.
Jameis Winston led the No. 2-ranked Seminoles to an 8-14 win Saturday over an outmatched Idaho as fans wore apparel and carried signs showing their support for the player accused of sexually assaulting a woman Dec. 7, 2012.
One woman carried a No. 5 jersey with Winston’s nickname, “Jay-boo,” printed on the back, and another wore the player’s jersey with the word “Innocent” spelled above the number.
Neither fan was willing to give their names, but both said they backed Winston, a redshirt freshman who’s leading Florida State to a possible berth in January’s national championship game.
“We’ve looked at everything that’s been released,” the woman said. “We’re confident he’s innocent.”
State Attorney Willie Meggs said he’ll likely decide whether to charge Winston in the 2012 case after Thanksgiving.
If the 19-year-old Winston is charged with a felony, the university’s student-athlete code of conduct calls for immediate suspension, although it allows for exceptions under some circumstances.
The Seminoles play Saturday at Florida and will appear Dec. 7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
Winston was met with a standing ovation when his name was announced at the Seminoles’ home finale.
“I didn’t even pay attention,” Winston said, grinning. “I was just in the zone.”
He stayed on the field after the game, posing for photos with cheerleaders, slapping hands with fans and signing autographs.
The university made him available to reporters after the game, but they were warned for a second straight week not to ask non-football-related questions.
The accuser, who reported the incident just hours after she said it happened, said detectives warned her attorney against pressing charges against Winston.
“Detective (Scott) 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 woman’s family said in a statement.
An analysis completed last week confirmed that Winston’s DNA matched a sample taken from the woman’s underwear.
Photo Credit: gal2.org/David July