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. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies


    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.