FSU quarterback Winston not charged in sexual assault case

Published: December 5 2013 | 12:10 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:29 am in
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Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will not be charged in the alleged rape of a fellow student.

Multiple media outlets reported in the minutes before state Attorney Willie Meggs, whose office took over the investigation last month from Tallahassee police, was scheduled to make the formal announcement from his office in the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee.

The decision ended more than three weeks of intense, national scrutiny of the case involving the leader of undefeated Florida State, the No. 1-ranked team in college football. Florida State plays for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship Saturday in Charlotte. Winston, a first-year starter, is considered the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.

Meggs' ruling comes nearly a year to the day after the woman first reported to police on Dec. 7, 2012, that she was raped at an off-campus apartment.

A search warrant affadavit issued for the cell phone records of the woman accusing Winston of sexual assault revealed details about her allegations that she was raped in an apartment after a night of drinking with friends.

Multiple outlets reported Thursday that details in the affidavit said the victim contacted police within an hour of the alleged rape. At the time, the woman said she did not know her alleged attacker. She later identified Winston.

Winston has denied the allegations since they emerged publicly on Nov. 13.

Evidence gathered by investigators the day of the incident matched Winston's DNA collected by police last month. Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen of Tallahassee, has insisted sex between his client and the accuser was consensual, a contention the woman's family has vehemently denied.

If Winston had been charged with a felony, FSU's code of conduct mandated 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.

Jansen plans to hold a news conference at which Winston will appear following Meggs' announcement. The media session will occur before the team leaves for the ACC Championship game at about 7:45 p.m. ET.

"Our goal and Mr. Winston's goal is to address the media once the case is closed," Jansen said Wednesday. "He's not going to go into great details about it, but he would like to put closure to this so he can move forward for the ACC game and a potential national championship."

The woman called the Florida State University Police Department shortly before 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2012, to report the crime. The case was quickly handed over to the Tallahassee Police Department 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.

Winston, who was named the ACC Player of the Year on Wednesday, has led the Seminoles to the No. 1 ranking, and they will play for a conference title Saturday, with a shot at the national crown.

Many Heisman Trophy voters were waiting to see whether Winston would be charged with a crime before casting their ballots. The deadline for Heisman ballots to be turned in is Monday.

Winston is the first redshirt freshman in the 61-year history of the conference to earn its top honor. He received 47 of 65 votes from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.

Winston leads the nation with a 192.6 passer rating. He also leads the conference with 3,490 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. The Heisman Trophy candidate is being investigated for an alleged sexual assault from last December.

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