Prosecutor: Sex investigation of FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is over

1:43 AM, Dec 5, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida (Tallahassee.com) -- Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston will learn Thursday whether he will be charged with sexual battery in the alleged rape of a fellow student.

State Attorney Willie Meggs, whose office took over the investigation last month from Tallahassee police, said he plans to make the announcement at 2 p.m. at his office.

The decision will end more than three weeks of intense, national scrutiny of the case involving the leader of FSU's No. 1-ranked football team, which has prompted sharp criticism of how the Tallahassee Police Department handled the on-again, off-again investigation of a Dec. 7, 2012, incident.

Evidence gathered by investigators the day of the incident matched Winston's DNA collected by police last month. Winston's attorney dismissed the connection, insisting sex between his client and the accuser was consensual.

If charged with a felony, FSU's code of conduct mandates Winston to be immediately suspended from the team until the case is resolved. Only a finding of "extraordinary circumstances" by the administration would allow him to play.

The 19-year-old complainant and her family said police warned that pursuing the allegation against Winston would subject her to public scorn. The family has condemned TPD for what it characterizes as multiple lapses in the investigation, including failure to collect DNA evidence early and prematurely categorizing the case as inactive.

The woman who has accused Winston of rape called the Florida State University Police Department shortly before 3:30 a.m. Dec. 7, 2012, to report the crime. The case was quickly handed over to TPD because the incident occurred at an off-campus apartment.

The woman didn't identify Winston as her attacker until Jan. 10, according to a timeline of the investigation released last week by TPD. The police department said it placed the case on inactive status Feb. 11 after the victim declined to pursue charges at the time, a contention her family has denied.

The case languished for about nine months before TPD handed it off to Meggs last month following media inquires for the initial police report. Since that time, TPD's handling of the investigation has been questioned by both the woman's family and Winston's attorney, both of whom have said the department failed to interview key witnesses early on. DNA wasn't collected from Winston until Nov. 14, about 10 months after the complainant identified him.

While Jansen said TPD told him in February the case was closed, the victim's family members said they were never notified of any status change in the case and were awaiting lab results through the spring.

The family, which has released two statements since the case went public, also said a TPD detective warned the complainant's attorney that Tallahassee was "a big football town" and her life would be made "miserable" if she went forward with the allegation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Winston was named named ACC Player of the Year, as well as ACC Offensive Player of the Year. It marked the first time in the 61-year history of the Atlantic Coast Conference that the top honor went to an underclassman.

Winston received 47 of 65 votes from members of conference media. Also receiving votes for Player of the Year were Boston College's Andre Williams (13), Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald (four) and Clemson's Tajh Boyd (one). On Tuesday, Winston was named ACC Rookie of the Year. The redshirt freshman has passed for 3,490 yards and 35 touchdowns and led the Seminoles to a 12-0 record and No. 1 national ranking.

FSU will take on the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game.

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