Tallahassee, FL (SportsNetwork.com/AP) - Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston
has been cleared of sexual assault charges.
State Attorney Willie Meggs made the announcement Thursday. The 19-year-old Heisman Trophy candidate was accused of raping a female student in December last year, but Meggs says there is not enough evidence for anyone to be charged in the case.
READ: Documentation in the Jameis Winston investigation (PDF)
The Tallahassee Police Department turned the case over to Meggs on November 12 after several media inquiries. Meggs interviewed the accuser November 21.
The prosecutor says Winston's DNA matched a sample found in the woman's underwear. But Winston's lawyer, Tim Jansen, has said that was expected and doesn't prove guilt.
Earlier on Thursday, search warrants were released that revealed the alleged
victim and her friends had shots at a bar and her "memory is very broken from
that point forward." She recalled being in a cab with a man and going into an
apartment before she was raped before the suspect dressed her, put her on a
scooter and dropped her off at an intersection.
Family of the victim have been critical of the way the Tallahassee police
department has handled the investigation. The case was placed on inactive
status in February after the police said the alleged victim didn't wish to
prosecute. However, the victim's attorney, Patricia Carroll, denies that
After Meggs' announcement, Winston's attorney says his client can now be even more focused on football.
Attorney Timothy Jansen said Thursday afternoon he had seen his client after the announcement and he was really happy. Jansen says Winston is absolutely innocent.
The accuser's family released the following statement:
"The victim and her family appreciate the State Attorney's efforts in attempting to conduct a proper investigation after an inordinate delay by the Tallahassee Police Department.
"The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice.
"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."
FSU President Dr. Eric Barron also issued the following statement on Thursday afternoon:
"Florida State University has a primary purpose to educate young people while enabling them to hone their skills and develop their gifts so they can become productive citizens. It is also our responsibility to treat students fairly and provide appropriate support.
"Recent weeks have provided a painful lesson, as we have witnessed harmful speculation and inappropriate conjecture about this situation and the individuals involved. As a result, we have all been hurt.
"A respect for the principle of due process is essential to the integrity of our community. Our commitment to each and every one of our students is unwavering and will remain our priority."
Winston set ACC freshman records with 3,490 passing yards and 35
touchdowns this season. He was named the conference player of the year on
Wednesday and is expected to be finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Florida State is 12-0 this season, ranked first in the BCS standings and takes
on Duke in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday night. A win would likely
secure a berth in the BCS championship game.
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