Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Questions surround the FSU alleged rape case no matter which side you're on

This is not a column about guilt or innocence.

I have neither the facts, nor the gall, to offer a strong opinion on the sexual allegation brought against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.

And this is not a column regarding public support.

For those who are absolutely convinced they understand the motivations of this case, on one side or the other, there is little anyone can say that will convince them otherwise.

Instead, this is a column about trust.

Because, no matter how this case eventually turns out, there are some troubling signs concerning the decisions made by people in positions of power and responsibility.

Specifically, the Tallahassee Police Department.

And maybe Florida State University.

If you know nothing else about this case, you need to at least consider the time frame as provided by police, as well as the attorneys for the accuser and the accused.

December: The woman reports the alleged incident within two hours of it happening and, ESPN later reports, police obtain a sexual assault kit from her, including DNA samples.

January: The woman identifies Winston as the man who assaulted her.

February: Police tell Winston's attorney that the case is essentially closed. Police later say the accuser stopped cooperating in February.

Here's the problem:

What were the police doing in December and January? Why was a DNA sample never collected from Winston until media reports surfaced two weeks ago? Why were witnesses never interviewed? Why wasn't the State Attorney's Office ever notified?

These are not obscure questions. This is basic, by-the-book police work that, from the information we have at this point, seems completely bungled.

That's a disturbing thought.

In some ways, it's almost as disturbing as the alleged crime.

If this was an under-the-radar case of sexual assault allegations, the perceived lack of investigation would be troubling just from a competence standpoint. But when you consider it involved a high-profile athlete at a high-profile university, then it makes you wonder whether there were other motivations for closing the case with so little fuss.

The same point could also be made about FSU's involvement. Federal law requires a university to conduct a prompt investigation into sexual assault allegations. The university now says it is looking into the charges but, approaching the one-year anniversary, it's probably safe to say this is nobody's idea of prompt.

Does any of this mean Winston is guilty?

Absolutely not.

The State Attorney's Office is conducting its own investigation to decide whether the case even warrants charges.

But do you suppose that investigation might have been done more efficiently 11 months ago? And do you suppose, if this ever gets to trial, a defense attorney might have a field day poking holes in the investigative process?

For the most part, we grow up understanding that life can be messy. There are moments when we find trouble and moments when trouble finds us. The one thing we count on is that the people in charge of protecting us will be there when we need them most.

Those are the people we need to trust.

Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston was identified as the man who assaulted a woman in January. In February, police told his attorney that the case is essentially closed.

Getty Images

Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston was identified as the man who assaulted a woman in January. In February, police told his attorney that the case is essentially closed.

Romano: Questions surround the FSU alleged rape case no matter which side you're on 11/25/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 8:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Here kitty, kitty ...


    In a toned down version of the annual rookie dress-up day based on MLB's new anti-hazing policy, Rays rookie players and staff - plus second-year LHP Blake Snell - donned DJ Kitty onesies for the trip to New York.

    Rays rookie players and staff - joined here by Alex Colome - sporting their DJ Kitty onesies before the flight to New York.
  2. Pasco residents affected by Irma invited to town hall meeting

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Representatives from Pasco County Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will play host to a town hall-style meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday in the first-floor boardroom of the West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey

    Sandra Cunningham assesses the damage a water oak did to her Church Avenue home when it crashed into her bedroom roof during Hurricane Irma.
  3. Lightning's Nikita Kucherov has a lot to say — about moving on to a much better season

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov sits back in his stall and smiles.

    Laughs a little, too.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) prepares for a faceoff during the first period of Friday's  (9/22/17) preseason game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Clearwater man shot, seriously injured


    CLEARWATER — A shooting Sunday morning in unincorporated Clearwater left one man seriously injured, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Mother of double amputee Ireland Nugent to lose her own lower right leg

    Human Interest

    Ever since Ireland Nugent lost both her lower legs in a lawn-mowing accident five years ago, the Clearwater girl has inspired her mother, Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, with the courage she has shown in overcoming the tragedy.

    Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent, left, looked on as her daughter Ireland threw out the first pitch when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on June 22, 2014. Jerry Nugent held his daughter for the pitch. Now Nicole Del Corpo-Nugent is facing surgery to amputate her own lower right leg due to a rare infection. WILL VRAGOVIC  |  Times (2014)