Wednesday, April 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

FSU and its star QB Winston could face lawsuit

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The attorney for a woman who accused star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault said Thursday that she intends to sue the school, the Tallahassee Police Department and the player himself.

Patricia Carroll said she plans to file a notice to sue the police department early next week. Under Florida law, anyone filing a lawsuit against a government agency must file court paperwork six months prior to the suit itself.

FSU, the Tallahassee Police Department and an attorney for Winston couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

The sexual encounter between Winston and Carroll’s client happened on Dec. 7, 2012. Winston’s attorney said the sex was consensual and no charges were filed against Winston after Leon County prosecutors investigated whether an assault took place.

But Carroll said her client, who was an FSU student at the time, was sexually assaulted. The woman was 19 at the time and reported what happened to Tallahassee Police.

At a mid-December news conference, Carroll criticized the way the police investigation was handled, 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. Carroll said that her client was “treated like a suspect.”

Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case and Carroll said she received a letter from the department that said an internal affairs investigation found that the case was handled with proper procedures.

Carroll has also criticized police for not submitting her client’s sexual assault kit to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab until Jan. 17, 2013 — 39 days after it was taken. The attorney questioned whether evidence was properly preserved during those 39 days.

Carroll says she asked Florida’s attorney general, the state department of law enforcement and Gov. Rick Scott for an independent examination into the rape investigation, claiming it was riddled with problems.

Scott “didn’t even give us the courtesy of a response,” Carroll said Thursday, adding that in her letters to Florida officials, she mentioned the unrelated cases of two other FSU students who said they were raped, but were “discouraged” from going through with a prosecution. Carroll said the family members of those two girls contacted her following her December news conference.

The 20-year-old Winston became the second freshman to win the Heisman trophy given to college football’s most outstanding player. He joined Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke as the school’s three Heisman winners.

Winston led Florida State to its first undefeated season and national championship since 1999 after setting national freshman records for yards passing and touchdown passes. The Seminoles defeated Auburn 34-31 to capture the third national title in school history.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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