ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. – A lawyer for the woman who accused Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault asked Friday for Florida’s attorney general to independently examine the rape investigation, claiming it was riddled with problems.
Attorney Patricia Carroll called on the attorney general to investigate the Tallahassee Police Department’s handling of the case, 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.
“It appears to me to be a complete failure of an investigation of a rape case,” Carroll said during the 90-minute news conference.
But it is unlikely that any action will be taken by the state to revisit the case. Only Florida Gov. Rick Scott can appoint a special prosecutor to review how the case was handled – and Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott’s office, described the previous investigation as thorough.
In response to Carroll’s criticisms, Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs on Friday defended his office’s decision to not charge Winston, but he also acknowledged “shortcomings” with the case. He said there are still questions about what happened between Winston and the woman who accused him of rape.
Meggs at one point remarked that there was “evidence of a sexual assault” although he later clarified that to mean statements from the victim as well as physical evidence such as Winston’s DNA being found in the underwear of the accuser.
Meggs said the decision to not charge Winston was based on the question of whether enough evidence existed to prove a rape charge – and his investigators concluded there was not. Last week, he said there were too many gaps in the accuser’s story.
“I think something happened that night, but whether or not it was to the level we could file a charge, we never got there,” he said.
Meggs said that he was not opposed to someone else investigating the case as he doubts they will reach a different conclusion.
Carroll’s news conference came one day before the scheduled announcement of the Heisman Trophy winner. Winston, 19, who led FSU to a No. 1 ranking and a shot at a BCS championship, is a favorite to win.