Alleged FSU victim speaks out

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The attorney for the accuser in the sexual assault investigation involving Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston said she was told that her client's life could "be made miserable" if she pursued charges but that contrary to reports the woman did not decide to walk away from the case.

The family of the accuser issued a statement to the Tampa Bay Times that outlined attorney Patricia Carroll's interactions with police. The statement says that recent media reports compelled the woman and her family to make the statement.

One of those reports outlined an email from City Manager Anita Favors Thompson to the mayor and city officials saying that the accuser "changed her mind and did not wish to prosecute." But Carroll said Wednesday that the woman was trying to get on with her life after it became apparent the Tallahassee Police Department was not seriously investigating the case. TPD did not respond to calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The statement took issue with other aspects of the case, as well.

According to the statement, the woman said she was raped on Dec. 7, 2012, and reported it to law enforcement. The woman, a student at Florida State at the time, identified the perpetrator as Winston in January and became concerned "that she would be targeted on campus."

An attorney friend -- later identified as Carroll -- contacted Detective Scott Angulo of the Tallahassee Police Department, who told the lawyer that "Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable," according to the statement.

The statement says that the attorney told Angulo that police needed to collect DNA and do blood work to make a more informed decision; however, the detective said police would not pursue samples from Winston because the case would go public. The family said it asked other times for samples to be collected and was under the impression that only police knew of the matter.

However, according to the statement, "the victim was devastated when she learned late last week that the Tallahassee Police Department had informed Winston's attorney as far back as February, which allowed him all of this time to create his defense and prepare his witnesses."

The statement says the woman did not want the situation to become public, but now that it has and her life "has been turned upside-down once again," her family has a number of questions. Among them:

  • • If Winston's attorney was aware of the case in February, why didn't Angulo collect DNA evidence, interview Winston and conduct a proper investigation?

    • Why was Winston not listed as a suspect in the police report once he was identified in early January?

    • Why is it being represented in the media that the accuser was intoxicated when Angulo told the family the woman was not intoxicated based on the blood work?

    • Why didn't Angulo or his superiors inform the state attorney of the alleged crime before the media sought a copy of the police report 11 months after the crime?

    The family statement was issued after Favors Thompson said the investigation was placed on hold for months because the woman decided she did not want to press charges.

    Saying that she anticipated national news media interest because of Winston's celebrity, Favors Thompson emailed the information to the mayor and city commissioners on Nov. 12. The Tallahassee Democrat first reported the existence of the email, which The Associated Press later obtained.

    Favors Thompson, who reports to the city commission, oversees the police department, which currently does not have a permanent chief.

    Favors Thompson said the woman who filed the complaint got "intoxicated at a local bar" and was then allegedly assaulted. The city manager said city police immediately began investigating the case after it was reported to authorities.

    But as they started interviewing witnesses, "they stopped getting responses from the young woman and could no longer contact her for additional follow up and information after many attempts to do so," Favors Thompson wrote.

    Favors Thompson said an attorney representing the victim's family said she "changed her mind and did not wish to prosecute."

    Last week, Tallahassee police released a heavily redacted two-page incident report that does not mention Winston by name but says an assault took place between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Dec. 7. It describes the suspect as being between 5-foot-9 and 5-11. Winston is listed by Florida State at 6-4.

    Timothy Jansen, an attorney representing Winston, maintains his client has done nothing wrong. Last week, he gave affidavits from two eyewitnesses he said will "completely exonerate my client." Jansen has said he believed the investigation was closed in February.

    Four days after the first media request for information, Tallahassee police turned over information to local prosecutors. Prosecutors have begun their investigation, and State Attorney Willie Meggs said he wants to interview the woman, who now lives out of state.

    "It is important that the process for this case is handled the same way as any other case," City Commissioner Scott Maddox said. "I am going to demand that this case is handled fairly and have full confidence that it will be."

    Meggs told the AP on Saturday that he is concerned media attention has focused primarily on 19-year-old Winston.

    "We have a female victim here, too, and my job is to make sure that this victim or any victim of a crime has their rights protected," Meggs said. "Everything is now focused on Winston and what's going to happen to him."

    Winston, a front-runner for the Heisman, has continued to play for the Seminoles.

    Florida State (10-0) hosts Idaho this weekend then visits Florida on Nov. 30.

    Prosecutors have said they anticipate concluding their investigation in the next couple of weeks.

    Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.