Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner who led Florida State to the National Championship on Monday, had his feel-great experience tainted by reports that a woman who accused him of sexual assault plans to file a civil suit against him, FSU and the Tallahassee Police Department.
Also Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott’s office released letters written to him in December by the accuser and her mother, imploring him to reconsider opening an investigation into the case.
Attorney Patricia Carroll, who represents the woman who accused Winston of rape, said she plans to file a notice to sue the police department early next week. Under Florida law, anyone filing a lawsuit against a government agency must file court paperwork six months prior to the suit itself.
The sexual encounter between Winston and Carroll’s client happened on Dec. 7, 2012. Winston’s attorney has said more than once that the sex was consensual. No charges were filed against Winston by Leon County prosecutors who investigated the case nearly a year after the woman said the attack happened.
But Carroll said her client, who was an FSU student at the time, was sexually assaulted. The woman was 19 and reported what happened to Tallahassee Police.
At a mid-December news conference, Carroll criticized the way the police investigation was handled, saying that detectives failed to interview key witnesses, used unreliable and incomplete forensic tests and never tested the alleged victim’s blood for the presence of date-rape drugs. Carroll said that her client was ”treated like a suspect.”
Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case and Carroll said she received a letter from the department that said an internal review found that the case was handled with proper procedures.
David Northway, a spokesman for the police department, said in a statement Thursday that ”based upon the facts and information gathered, no violation of department policy or Florida law was identified on the part of the investigators assigned to this case; therefore no formal internal affairs investigation will be conducted in this matter.”
Northway also said: ”The reports in this case document that our department took the case seriously, processed evidence and conducted an investigation based on information available at that time. We take seriously the obligation to respond to any individual who wants to report a crime.”