Sunday, December 10, 2017
Colleges

What the Jameis Winston investigation found

Two of Jameis Winston's teammates said they saw everything the night he was accused of sexual assault and that there was no rape.

Florida State defensive end Chris Casher, Winston's roommate, and defensive back Ronald Darby signed affidavits saying they saw the accuser willingly engage in oral and vaginal sex with Winston in the early morning hours of Dec. 7.

"From what I saw, she was a more than willing participant," Casher said in his sworn statement.

"At no time did the girl ever indicate that she was not a willing participant," Darby wrote.

Defense attorney Tim Jansen shared the affidavits with the State Attorney's Office the same day they were signed: Nov. 13.

That was the day after State Attorney Willie Meggs launched his own investigation after learning about the sexual assault investigation from the Tallahassee Police Department.

Tallahassee police released 86 pages from the case file Thursday to coincide with Meggs' announcement that Winston will not face charges.

There is no statement from Winston, and the information provided does not indicate that police ever interviewed Winston, Casher or Darby. There also are references to the accuser's friends but no details of the interviews. Meggs' office has a separate case file that will be made available to the media as early as today.

The football players and the accuser, now 19, were all partying the night of Dec. 6, 2012, at Potbelly's, a bar on the edge of campus popular with students.

The woman was drinking alcohol with friends — several vodka cocktails and some shots, she said — but ended up alone in a cab with men she didn't know. They all went to Winston's apartment in the Legacy Suites complex near campus.

The accuser says she was held down and raped there, though she also says her recollections of the night are fuzzy.

"I kept telling him to stop, but he took all my clothes off," she said in a handwritten statement dated Dec. 7, 2012. "He started having sex with me and then his roommate came in and told him to stop."

Casher and Darby's statements contradict the accuser, who was attending FSU at the time and is from Tampa Bay.

Casher said he entered the room while the accuser and Winston were having intercourse, not to stop the act but to embarrass Winston. He said the accuser yelled at him to "get out," then turned off the lights and tried to close the door so the sex could continue.

The accuser said the same person who assaulted her took her back to her dorm on a black scooter.

One of her friends called police to report what happened, saying the accuser had been hit on the head and kept blacking out during the incident, according to a police report.

The accuser agreed to be interviewed, first by officers from the Florida State University Police Department and later, when it became clear the incident happened off campus, investigators with the Tallahassee Police Department.

She told investigators she didn't know who assaulted her and was unsure if she wanted to press charges. Investigators did make note of bruises on the accuser's knees, forearms and feet.

A little more than a month later, on Jan. 10, investigator Scott Angulo received a call from the accuser who identified Winston as the person who assaulted her.

But instead of meeting the next day with the accuser as planned, Angulo heard from attorney Patricia Carroll. Carroll said she would be representing the accuser and all communication would need to be funneled through her. The accuser's family had become concerned because Winston — by that time identified as a rising dual-sport star at FSU — was a big name on campus and were afraid of the consequences of pressing charges.

Carroll told the accuser to seek counseling and decide whether she wanted to pursue the case.

At the same time, Angulo tried unsuccessfully to interview Winston. Jansen told police he didn't think it was in his client's best interest to provide a statement.

Tallahassee police investigators said they suspended the case in February because the accuser stopped cooperating. But they also reported communicating with Carroll in March and dropping the matter only after they didn't hear from her this spring.

The accuser's family denies cutting off contact, saying they were always available if police needed them.

"Sometimes communication is an art," Meggs said. "And sometimes people … hear what you want to hear."

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement didn't finish testing DNA and other evidence until August. Analysts identified male DNA on the accuser's shorts and panties, but didn't have anything to match it to even though Winston had been named months prior.

"If a subject is developed, it is requested that buccal swabs be submitted for DNA analysis," an Aug. 27 FDLE report said.

The case remained dormant until November when the Tampa Bay Times and other media submitted public records requests. According to an updated police report filed Thursday, the State Attorney's Office was told about the allegations only as a courtesy in case his office received media inquiries.

Instead, Meggs spent nearly a month launching his investigation.

They retested the accuser's DNA and matched it to samples taken from Winston and submitted to the FDLE on Nov. 14.

One of the final "loose ends" before Meggs felt comfortable closing the case was identifying the source of a second DNA sample found on the accuser's shorts. On Dec. 2, samples from her reported boyfriend were submitted to the FDLE and came back a match, Meggs said. The DNA on her shorts may or may not have been put there on the same night as the incident, but the boyfriend was not in the apartment where it occurred.

Toxicology reports received in March showed no drugs in the accuser's system and her blood-alcohol level was 0.048, according to a February report.

Meggs said that likely means it was higher at the time of the incident. "We were of the belief that it would have probably been at about a 0.10," he said Thursday. "You're not supposed to drive at a 0.08."

As part of the new investigation, Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappelman asked Tallahassee police to reinterview the accuser and her friends, as well as sit down with Casher and Darby.

Police interviewed Casher on Nov. 14, and his statement was consistent with his affidavit with one exception: He said he entered the room while Winston and the accuser were having sex in hopes that he could have sex with her, too. He also said he tried to videotape the encounter but the woman told him to leave.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Tia Mitchell can be reached at [email protected]

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