It’s been one week since allegations of sexual assault against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston rocked the college football landscape.
It was just seven days ago that the Tallahassee Police Department released a heavily redacted report from an incident in December of 2012 and it has been a whirlwind of speculation and distractions for the Seminoles ever since.
Droves of new reporters showed up last Saturday as Florida State took on Syracuse. FSU’s staff had to give constant reminders to keep the questions football-related before every interview. The clutter-free, football-first bubble that head coach Jimbo Fisher had so carefully constructed for his team to play in, to succeed in, was penetrated by a set of very ugly, very disruptive allegations.
The Seminoles did their part last Saturday, smashing the Orange -- just as they had done to every other opponent -- and saying all the right things afterwards.
But it’s only going to get harder from here. Not just for Winston, for his whole team.
If Jameis Winston is guilty of what he’s being accused of he deserves every punishment he receives. But this past week has been a circus the likes of which is hard for anyone to ignore. While due process is waiting to play out, Winston is being tried in the court of public opinion.
Over the weekend State Attorney Willie Meggs -- during an interview with the associated press -- stopped just short of accusing the Winston camp of orchestrating a massive cover-up.
“Now they’ve been talking to lawyers, they’ve been talking to each other and getting their stories together,” said Meggs. “People have had 11 months to decide what they’re going to say.”
Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, had to issue a statement in response requesting that Meggs’ office maintain silence on what is ‘a supposedly confidential law enforcement investigation.’
On Tuesday the Tallahassee Democrat published emails between Tallahassee City Commissioners discussing the fact that the victim no longer wished to pursue the case. Then on Wednesday the victim’s family released a statement of its own through the Tampa Bay Times.
“Recent media reports compel our family to make a statement at this time,” the release begins.
Per the family’s statement, the victim was raped on 12/7 and the report was made that night.
“In early January, when the victim identified the perpetrator as Jameis Winston, the family grew concerned that she would be targeted on campus,” the statement continues.
The family then accuses the TPD -- in particular, detective Scott Angulo -- of attempting to convince the victim not to pursue the case. Alleging that Angulo told her attorney that “Tallahassee is a big football town” and “her life will be made miserable.”
The family also accuses Angulo of refusing to collect a DNA or blood sample from Winston, in addition to not interviewing his roommate (who allegedly witnessed the attack) for fear that things would “go public.”
The family also denies being the source of any of the information in regards to this case prior to the statement.
“There was no benefit in that,” the statement says.
On Wednesday Jansen declined comment on the statement released by the victim’s family out of respect to the request for silence that he made over the weekend from Meggs. Jansen has already turned over two sworn affidavits with witness testimony that he says will “completely exonerate my client.”
In the meantime Meggs’ office continues its investigation with no set deadline or timetable to make a decision.
To date Winston has not been charged with a crime.
All the while Florida State’s season sits in a state of purgatory. With Idaho on the schedule this weekend, all of the extra distractions -- the negative media attention and the rampant speculation -- are unlikely to catch up to it.
But it has to eventually. This is starting to become too big for anyone to block out.
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