Before reading this, make sure to read the summary of events of the Jameis Winston TMZ story. I spoke with several strong sources on this connected to Florida State and otherwise. Here are some thoughts and questions.
Was the case ever closed? If so, why has it been re-opened and sent to the SA?
Winston's attorney certainly believed it was closed. Every source I talk to says that there was never sufficient evidence to support the claim. And that is why it never made it to the SA, why no arrest was ever made, etc.
In my opinion, this was sent to the State Attorney (SA) so that TPD could avoid the appearance of impropriety in investigating a player who was a nobody at the time, but who is now the Heisman Trophy leader. It doesn't want to look like local cops not thoroughly investigating a famous person because of who he is. And given the recent events involving the TPD (the Rachel Hoffman case, the beating of Christina West during a DUI arrest, etc.), this is a smart C.Y.A. move on its part once it realized local and national media were sniffing around.
I can't imagine that the State Attorney is too happy about being blindsided about this. At all.
The SA will conduct a thorough review, and I expect this to happen rather quickly. Unless there is some new evidence, and I have no reason to believe there is, the SA will reach the same conclusion that the TPD did in first place: that there is no evidence to support a charge.
Having the State Attorney clear Winston in addition to the local cops will ultimately help Winston's reputation in the long run now that this story is out there.
The other theory thrown out by some is that the alleged victim has re-asserted the claim by going to the SA, essentially going over the heads of the TPD.
The Tallahassee Democrat indeed believes that the woman is now re-asserting the claim.
I came to two conclusions over the course of the day:
- - The report was real and the investigation by police had moved from inactive back to active in the last few days. We didn't know exactly why, except that the national media outlet had made an inquiry of Tallahassee Police about the case.
- - The evidence against Winston appeared thin on the surface.
But the second conclusion could not overrule the first: the investigation was real.
Mostly, I kept coming up with questions.
Sources told us the investigation went inactive because the woman involved had not wanted to move forward, but in the last day or so that had changed. Why? We don't know.
At this time, I have absolutely no reason to believe that the alleged victim (and I use alleged because I have no reason to believe a crime was committed by Winston, or anyone for that matter) has now re-asserted her claim, or that she went to the SA outside of the TPD to re-assert the claim.
Is the Democrat correct on this? Perhaps. They likely do have better sources than me on that. But I have to report what I am told.
How did the media find out? And why now?
My sources indicate that a media outlet, perhaps TMZ or the Tampa Bay Times, was asking for the police report last Friday, and that is how the Tallahassee Democrat (local paper) got wind of it.
How did the media outlet know to ask for the documents? Did someone within the TPD tip them off? If so, was the motive money (a story like this could fetch $10,000 or more)? Racism? An especially angry college football fan of a rival team? That's an interesting question which will be almost impossible to answer unless the tipster runs his mouth at a later date. If the story was shopped around in a sloppy fashion, there is a chance that the tipster could be outed. But I wouldn't hold out much hope for that.
I don't think the timing of this is in any way coincidental. The initial media request was made the exact day after Oregon lost to Stanford, assuring Florida State a slot in the national title game if it won out, and assuring Jameis Winston would become the Heisman Favorite (which he did in Vegas, overwhelmingly). The day of the media request was the height of Jameis Winston's fame until yesterday. That is when the story became the most valuable.
Actions after the fact by Winston and Florida State show confidence
I think the actions by Jimbo Fisher and Florida State say a lot about case. The case was believed closed in February. Winston received equal reps in spring practice, and in fall, and won the job. Nobody I know at Florida State was worried about this.
I cannot say with absolutely certainty that Jimbo Fisher knew about this, but enough people around town knew months before the season started. It would have been hard for Jimbo not to know.
Additionally, even after this surfaced late last week, Jameis has continued to take the majority of reps in practice according to sources (FSU's practices are closed). Given that FSU's backup quarterback, Jacob Coker, had knee surgery Monday and is likely out for the year, this speaks volumes.
FSU's policy states that any player charged with a felony is ineligible for competition until the charge has been cleared. If Florida State thought that this story being brought up again presented any possibility of charges coming for Jameis Winston, it would have absolutely been preparing second-string QB Sean Maguire (third-string until three days ago) to start. But that has not been the case.
I also think the witness affidavits provided by Winston's attorney will put this thing to bed for good, at least as it concerns Jameis Winston.
Jameis' state of mind and his girlfriend
Winston is a kid with incredible poise and composure for his age. He's played his entire career at Florida State knowing about the allegation, but I do believe this is affecting him significantly. The sooner it gets put to rest, the better. I think there is a real chance that could happen before the Syracuse game. And if I were Winston, I'd want a statement from the SA and TPD saying that there was never any evidence to support a charge, and that I was not involved in any crime.
There's also the matter of Winston's girlfriend, who for privacy reasons I won't be identifying. They had been together (I use "had" because I am not sure if they are still together) since high school, and she lives out of town. But based on her tweets, she visited Winston from December 7th (tweeted about being on the flight to go see him) and remained in town through at least the 9th. She tweeted on the 9th about having a great weekend with Winston. The alleged incident happened less than 24 hours before her arrival.
Depending on the facts of the case, this could cause a serious strain on a relationship, even when he is cleared, which could add another layer of stress for Winston, who is just 19 years old.
We will continue to keep you updated on the situation.