Jameis Winston will not face charges after a female Florida State University student accused him of rape in an encounter nearly a year ago, prosecutors in Tallahassee announced Thursday.
The FSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy frontrunner will now be able to finish out the season with the No. 1 ranked Seminoles, who would have suspended Winston had he faced felony charges.
Willie Meggs, the state attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit, announced the news at a press conference on Thursday.
“We’ve carefully examined all the evidence in this case and have concluded that no charges will be filed against anyone in this case,” Meggs said.
The accuser had been interviewed two weeks ago, and after taking in all the evidence prosecutors determined that the case did not have a likelihood of conviction, Meggs said. ESPN had reported that DNA found on the woman’s underwear matched Jameis Winston, but Winston’s attorney contended that the two had consensual sex.
Meggs revealed some new evidence that came to light, including DNA evidence from a second male, reportedly the accuser’s boyfriend. The woman was also hazy about specifics of the incident, saying that she was drunk and could not remember everything that happened.
Patricia Carroll, who represented the accuser, said the 19-year-old woman had to withdraw from campus after the incident.
The case raised concerns with the Tallahassee Police Department, who reportedly told the accuser that Tallahassee is a “big football town, and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against [Winston] because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable.”
After prosecutors announced that Jameis Winston will not face charges, Carroll released a statement commending the accuser for coming forward in the face of such opposition.
“The victim and her family appreciate the state attorney’s efforts in attempting to conduct a proper investigation after an inordinate delay by the Tallahassee Police Department,” the statement said. “The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice. The victim has grave concerns that her experience, as it unfolded in the public eye and through social media, will discourage other victims of rape from coming forward and reporting.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher issued a statement after the news was announced:
“As you might imagine, I was pleased to hear that the state attorney’s office exonerated Jameis in the matter. I’m not going to answer any questions about the situation, but I would like to point out that our community and our university are blessed to have really good people in place to review matters like this. I know Jameis is pleased he can focus on being a student at a great university and he’s excited about helping our team achieve its goals this year. Right now, we’re all looking forward to what we have in front of us on Saturday.”
Jameis Winston and the FSU football team will now take on Duke for the ACC Championship.