Media report blasts handling of Jameis Winston investigation

Steve Cannon/Associated Press
State Attorney Willie Meggs says that Tallahassee police did not thoroughly investigate Jameis Winston.


When the state attorney in Tallahassee, Fla., announced in November that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston would not be prosecuted for a sexual assault, he said there were shortcomings in the investigation by police.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that its examination of the case found that "there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university."

State Attorney Willie Meggs acknowledged to the Times that a thorough investigation might have yielded the same decision. He also said Tallahassee police "just missed all the basic fundamental stuff that you are supposed to do."

Meggs specifically took exception to how the police handled the case once the accuser told them in January 2013 Winston was the man involved. The Times reported that it wasn't until two weeks after that that the police attempted to contact Winston -- by phone. "It's insane to call a suspect on the phone," Meggs told the newspaper.

And while news of Winston's involvement in the December 2012 incident didn't become public until Nov. 13, 2013, the Times reported that FSU's athletic department had known early on that Winston had been accused. The Times reported that in an internal Tallahassee police e-mail from Jan. 23, 2013, one officer wrote that police had "received a call from the Athletic Directors Assistant inquiring about the case."

Winston, who has said he had consensual sex with his accuser, did not speak to the Times. The newspaper reported that it asked Winston for an interview but he declined, and that an Atlanta lawyer advising his family, David Cornwell, said, "We don't need an investigation, thorough or otherwise, to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady."

The Times also reported that the prosecutor's office said that a month before the rape accusation became public, the university's victim advocate learned that a second woman had sought counseling after a sexual encounter with Winston. The woman did not call it rape, but Georgia Cappleman, the chief assistant state attorney, told the Times the encounter "was of such a nature that she felt violated or felt that she needed to seek some type of counseling for her emotions about the experience."

Cappleman told the Times she had spoken with the advocate but not with the woman.

Cappleman also told the Times that while no crime had been committed in that incident, it was troubling and "sheds some light on the way Mr. Winston operates" and on what may be "a recurring problem rather than some type of misunderstanding that occurred in an isolated situation."

As a redshirt freshman in 2013, Winston won the Heisman and led FSU to the national title. He currently is playing for the Seminoles' highly ranked baseball team and recently completed spring practice with the football team. Winston will be a third-year sophomore in the fall and thus will be eligible for the 2015 draft.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.