Columns

The Forgotten Woman in the Heisman Trophy Story

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: December 16, 2013 3:55 AM
I Beg to Differ

Was the woman who accused Jameis Winston of sexual assault -- who accuses him still -- watching Saturday night as Winston collected his Heisman Trophy?

Anybody with a daughter would wonder.

It was hard to watch the ESPN ceremony without thinking of her, or the countless other women over the years who claimed they were victimized by splashy athletes -- women who were dismissed as irrelevant as soon as criminal charges were dropped.

Like the women who filed charges against baseball's Johan Santana, basketball's Kobe Bryant and other good-time gladiators in America's over-the-top sports culture, Jameis Winston's accuser will become a footnote tucked away at the end of some Wikipedia hosanna to his career.

Meanwhile, Winston gets a hero's welcome at the Heisman ceremony, and he will again, win or lose, the night he quarterbacks Florida State in its first national championship game in 14 years.

Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News said it well in a Sunday commentary: "Our criminal justice system correctly embraces the concept of innocent until proven guilty. There is reasonable doubt about Winston’s behavior. That mustn’t be enough to put him on trial, throw him in prison, or disqualify him from a job in the NFL. But shouldn’t that exclude him from a nationally televised feting?"

“I knew I did nothing wrong, so I just had to be myself,” Winston said Saturday. “My innocence was proven. God is always going to challenge you. ... People got to know I just love life. ... When I grabbed the trophy, it was like, ‘This is my trophy. I didn’t want to pick it up, I wanted to hug it. I really believe that people trusted in me.”

As it happens, not all of them did trust him. Here's an under-publicized fact:  In spite of Winston's landslide vote margin -- 668 first-place votes, fifth-largest victory margin in the modern era over second-place A.J. McCarron -- 13 percent of those who get to vote in the contest left Winston off their ballot. Completely off the ballot, as if he didn't exist. And who gets to decide the Heisman winner? Eight hundred and seventy (870) media people, 57 previous Heisman winners and one fan, for a total of 928 voters.

Now, 13 percent might not sound like a lot, but in the petri dish where college football lives today -- called by ESPN and others "a thriving laboratory for corruption" --  More than 100 Heisman voters actually sided with the woman who filed charges against Winston. That's quite something considering the often ethics-unconscious "Heisman club" still gives O.J. Simpson a vote as a former winner.

I blame all of the authorities in "football crazy" Tallahassee, from the city Police Department to the state attorney's office, for failing to treat the woman as an alleged sexual assault victim and Winston as a suspect in the case. They completely bungled a case that began months ago, then stalled. A case in which Winston's accuser was grilled five times before he was even named as a suspect.

Patricia Carroll

Patricia Carroll

Patricia Carroll, attorney for the woman insisting she was raped, said 152 pages of the state attorney's 248-page investigative file related to her client, including her cellphone records, texts, emails and social-media posts, but only 11 pages contained Winston's name.

She noted that while Winston was identified Jan. 11 by her client as the suspect in the alleged rape, Tallahassee Police Investigator Scott Angulo's first search warrant five days later was for the complainant's cellphone records. No warrant was requested to search Winston's apartment, get his DNA or retrieve his phone records or the phone records of his two friends who witnessed the incident.

The investigation was abandoned by State Attorney Willie Meggs on Dec. 5 -- four days before the Heisman voting deadline. Convenient. 

And while I am as unsure as most people what happened the night of Dec. 7, 2012, I know the only reason for my uncertainty is the poor pursuit of evidence in a case where the celebrity of the accused completely overpowered the accuser's inconvenient accounting of the events of that night.

Athletes accused of rape get special treatment everywhere, not just at FSU. For example, not one but two women brought charges against Christian Peter, a student at the University of Nebraska. Though he was convicted, he received only 18 months of probation and kept playing for Nebraska. No criminal charges ever were filed against him, and he went on to play in the NFL.

More examples: In 1999, Alison Jennings said she'd been raped by four players on the Oklahoma State football team. "Criminal charges were never filed, she said, because in the hours following the incident, she had signed a waiver of prosecution after being told by the police that her story had not been corroborated and she did not have a case," Harvey Araton wrote in the New York Times in 2001.

A 2003 article in a Fordham law journal listed rape allegations against football players, often accompanied by Title IX suits, at the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University, the University of Mississippi, Iowa State University, Arizona State University, and the University of Georgia. More recently, football players have been accused of sexual assault at UCLA, the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Connecticut.

Two things bother me now, in the wake of the Heisman winner announcement.

First, most people who know about the case through the national media aren't Florida State fans. They acknowledge his grand accomplishments, but they don't adore Jameis Winston as many Floridians do. All they see is sloppy police work, intentional aversion and cowardice in the incident's aftermath -- an institutional coddling of a prize college athlete. This is bad for Florida, bad for Winston and certainly bad for the young woman who has been through a horrendous ordeal. This botched case in the state capital is just another black mark on Florida.

Second, and more important to me personally, as a mother and grandmother I want to know for absolute sure that police take sexual acts seriously, no matter who the accused is, how many no-hitters he's pitched, basketball records he's shattered, passes he's thrown or how idolized he is by fans.  

Thank you to the 29,500 people who have signed an online petition, started by Florida rape survivor Maureen Hamrock, demanding an investigation of the TPD's conduct in this case.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. 


Comments (24)

Harold
10:47PM MAR 11TH 2014
Agreed!
anonymous
1:44PM JAN 26TH 2014
The petition creator, Maureen Hamrock, is a attention seeking idiot by those who know her who admitting stated she was drunk at the time of her own rape in college. As we all know, most drunk young woman instigate sexual relations, and when they sober, they call it rape. RAPE IS A STRONG WORD and life changing forever. MAUREEN HAMROCK IS AN low life loser.
Harold
10:47PM MAR 11TH 2014
Agreed!
Moira Jackson
7:31AM DEC 18TH 2013
Will you exhume this news in his obituary years from now? He'll never live down an accusation that may not be true? I hope my son would get the benefit of the doubt. We have ruined the reputation of TWO young kids with our fascination with sensationalized news. There are enough facts to make me doubt her story. Sad. I'm glad I no longer work in radio/TV.
Jim J.
3:33PM DEC 16TH 2013
Evil men prevail when good men don't do their jobs.
Harold
5:57PM DEC 16TH 2013
I sure hope none of your sons are ever falsely accused of raping a girl some day, and you have to deal with this type of high tech character assassination. The weight of the evidence is pretty overwhelming here in support of this being consensual, later regretful sex.
abrellbama
9:50PM DEC 17TH 2013
I just hope you never have a daughter that is raped by an influential individual and she has to go thru the trauma and be labeled a tramp because the police, DA, etc don't have the guts to do their job. The evidence shows that this is a cover up. Two different medical reports, discrepancies in the police reports, delays so the defense can get their witnesses statements to match each other.
Repubtallygirl
4:06PM DEC 16TH 2013
John 8:32
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

And it did.
Repubtallygirl
4:06PM DEC 16TH 2013
John 8:32
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

And it did.
TRUTH
3:31PM DEC 16TH 2013
WHEN THEY SAID THERE WASN'T ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO TRY THE CASE THAT WAS BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T DO AN INVESTIGATION. THEY INVESTIGATED A RAPE VICTIM, NOT A RAPIST. MY THEORY IS THAT THESE TWO MEN HAD DRUGGED WOMEN BEFORE. THEY ADMITTED THEY HAD BOTH HAD SEX WITH MULTIPLE WOMEN. I BELIEVE THE ROOMMATE MAY HAVE DECIDED NOT TO FINISH HIS RAPE BECAUSE THE VICTIM WAS PROTESTING, BUT BECAUSE HE DIDN'T WANT HIS BUDDY TO GO TO JAIL OR CREATE A BLAME GAME SCENARIO WHERE BOTH MEN COULD GO TO PRISON, THEY COLLABORATED AND SAID IT WAS CONSENSUAL. FALSE ON ITS FACE. EVEN THE PROSECUTOR SAID THE WITNESS ACCOUNTS (RAPIST ACCOUNTS) WERE SUSPECT. THE POLICE DIDN'T INVESTIGATE THE CASE, SO THERE WAS NO CASE. I HOPE THEY HAVE FAMILY MEMBERS WHO ARE RAPED AND HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS. MAYBE THEN THEY'LL HAVE SOME COMPASSION AND DEDICATION TO THEIR JOBS. MAYBE FOOTBALL WON'T MATTER THEN. MAYBE IF THEY ARE RAPED THEY WOULD TAKE RAPE SERIOUSLY, RATHER THEN JOKING AROUND AT A NEWS CONFERENCE LIKE RAPE IS REALLY A SUPER HILARIOUS THING. HA-HA. THAT WAS THE MOST PATHETIC NEWS CONFERENCE I HAVE EVER SEEN. A TRUE SHAME. OFFENSIVE. NO SURPRISE FROM SOME ELDERLY AND CLUELESS MEN. WORLD'S CHANGING BOYS. WOMEN ARE TAKING OVER. THIS WILL STOP WHEN THE FEMINISTS TAKE OVER THE WORLD. THE FEMINIST ARMY IS COMING….
Repubtallygirl
4:05PM DEC 16TH 2013
When you produce facts to your ASSumptions, come back. Other than that, you are spinning a crazy story.
TRUTH
3:25PM DEC 16TH 2013
TWO DNAs. One was her boyfriend. One was a rapist.
Carole
5:25PM DEC 16TH 2013
We should be talking about WINSTON'S DNA at this point. Nobody ever does.
TRUTH
3:24PM DEC 16TH 2013
Why doesn't anyone comment on the fact that one of Jameis Winston's friends told him to stop while in the apartment. Men don't tell other men to stop having sex unless they are forcing someone else. Jameis Winston's response? To move the girl to the bathroom, where the lock actually worked, and finish. This is rape. WHY DID THEY DELETE THE VIDEO THE SUPPOSEDLY EXONERATED THE RAPIST? IF IT WAS CONSENSUAL AND ON TAPE YOU BRING IT TO THE POLICE, YOU DON'T DELETE. Man, so many people who are too stupid to actually evaluate evidence.
TRUTH
3:21PM DEC 16TH 2013
I READ ON ANOTHER SITE THAT THERE ARE OTHER VICTIMS WHO WERE DRUGGED BY THESE GUYS. HOW LONG UNTIL THEY COME FORWARD? ARE YOU STILL GOING TO CALL IT A LIE AS THE VICTIMS PILE UP? TICK TOCK. TICK TOCK.
Michael
5:52PM DEC 16TH 2013
Who are these people who just go on the internet and lie like this. The FDLE lab tested this girl for drugs. Drugs don't flush out of your system in a few hours - they stay in your system in trace amounts for sometimes as long as a week. She tested negative for any drugs. Read the report and stop spewing your lies. Now this stupid lawyer of hers - who apparently has paid bloggers posting on this site stirring the pot on Jameis Winston hurling unfounded crap - claimed that FDLE is in on the grand conspiracy too.

Jesus, I can't keep up with all these BS conspiracy theories on how Meggs - who often times over prosecutes these things with athletes somehow got in cahoots with FDLE and TDP to cover up for a guy who was at the time - a THIRD STRING REDSHIRT FRESHMAN quarterback.

She, by the way, is one of the worst attorneys I have ever seen give her client the worst advice possible.
abrellbama
9:59PM DEC 17TH 2013
The problem with your story is there were 2 medical reports that Patricia Carroll held up at her news conference. One said that she didn't have drugs in her system while the other showed they didn't test for GHB. Hmmm....kind of throws your theory out the window. How about one police report that said the victim said her attacker was 5'9"-5'11" while a separate police report showed the victim said her attacker was around 6'2". See the problem here. Then Chris Casher gave one statement back in 1/13 but his statement to the DA in 11/13 was not the same. Liars have a hard time keeping their facts straight. Why the victim's statements never changed. She had memory lapses because she had been drugged and the police didn't do their job properly.
judicial control is rampant
9:11AM DEC 16TH 2013
Jeb Bush said Judges should respect primacy of Legislature & Executive

The governor's effort to improve his influence over the appointment of Florida judges was driven by a desire to change what Bush believed was an improper, liberal judicial philosophy. But there was also ongoing hostility among Florida Republicans about the role they played by the judiciary in the American system of checks and balances. Bush and other Republicans regularly lamented the fact that public policy was made not only in the executive and legislative branches, but also in the judicial branch of government.
Bush personally distanced himself from the position held by generations of constitutional authorities that the three branches of government were co-equals. Bush pushed his position so intensely that the president of the Florida Bar questioned whether he believed in the separation of powers doctrine. Pursuing his own version of this doctrine, Bush promised to appoint judges who would respect "the primacy of the legislative and the executive as policymakers."

Effectively destroying the independence of the Florida judicial system and turning it into puppets who serve at the whim of the legislative and the executive branches who care controlled by the politicians.
What ever happened to the old days when the victim went to the “county judges” office and swore out a warrant for the suspect? The judge then issued the warrant and it was the job of the State Attorney to prosecute the case.
Since the Jeb Bush overhaul of the Florida “just us” system, these State Attorney’s have been elevated to “knighthood” most refuse to use the “grand jury” system unless they want to manipulate a persecution of honest people and place the blame on “the people” instead of themselves.
Today, the “justice’ really should be renamed the “just us” system because justice is reserved for those who can afford to buy it – lady justice is no longer “blind” she is now also deaf and dumb and has been raped so many times she is now using her “cherry” for a tail light.
You People have no conscience
9:08AM DEC 16TH 2013
You "RepublicanConscience" type people really get me. You are trained and cultured into your lying spins.But if you or yours is ever abused you holler the loudest! This victim reported the rape immediately to friends and asap to the Tallahassee Police Department. She was taken to the hospital. The police should have immediately began an honest investigation to identify her rapist, but they did not! It was left up to her the victim and it took about one month before she established the true identity of her rapist and provided that information the the Tallahassee Police.

You Repukes come from a culture of abuse of both children and women going all the way back to the Franklin Scandal and Straight, Inc. which effectively destroyed the lives of until thousands of children. At the flick of a finger they used their useful idiots like you to "just make it all go away!"

But, it didn't go away and never will. The millions of dollars "made" (not earned) by this culture of corruption with they toys like Jameis Winston can never buy the silence of the victims of the powerful.

JUST US is for sale to only those with money! What ever happened to the civil right movement when everyone was entitled to justice and their day in court and if they could not afford a lawyer the people would furnish them one???
Repubtallygirl
1:14PM DEC 16TH 2013
Were there drugs in her system? No.
Was there large amounts of alcohol in her system? No.
(via police report: This case was analyzed for the following: amphetamines, antidepressants, antihistamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabinoids, carisoprodol, cocaine, GHB, methadone, opiates, oxycodone, propoxyphene, and other drugs.)
Was there more than one semen sample discovered on her body? Yes.

Sorry, you can 'accuse' 'Republicans' of 'abuse of both children and women' but the facts don't match that statement. This was a girl who obviously like to sleep around and was attempting to CYA with her boyfriend after she had sex with Winston. I read the entire 85 page police report, have you? Let us see how the accuser's friends with her that night has helped her make her case.
One, has refused all contact to the police department.
The other one stated she was 'at a party, hit her head and blacked out'.

The facts are, this girl lied and Winston, rightfully so, has not been charged.
RepublicanConscience
8:54AM DEC 16TH 2013
I guess the women forgot also. The sudden realization that Winston was going to be rich jogged her memory.

I'm sorry but to wait a year before reporting it just does not make sense unless you're a _____________(fill in the blank.)

Patrica Carroll is why there are so many Lawyer jokes.
Jan
7:57AM DEC 16TH 2013
I totally agree with Nancy Smith and hope this does not get swept under the rug because he is considered a great football player. The Florida justice system did not do their job correctly.
Michael
7:40AM DEC 16TH 2013
Jameis Winston raped that woman. It was not beat down forcible rape but it was surely use of intimidation and ignoring her demand to stop rape. She has been failed by the Tallahasse Police and State Attorney Meggs.
Jake
1:24PM DEC 16TH 2013
How the H do you know this buddy. Were in you in the room? You obviously didn't read the SAO report, did you.

You do know that a rape kit was administered that evening. You do also know that the "bruising" that her nincapoop lawyer keeps taking about was bruising ON HER KNEES. Not her back, her wrists, her arms, her face, her kneck...but her knees. I assume you know what that means.

She didn't scream out rape because she claimed she "was sick". Right. No resistance, no scream, nothing audible. So just so I have this straight....a girl who openly bragged online before about chasing athletes...who is a members of a twitter group names "cleat chasers" hits on Jameis and Chris Casher in a bar, GOES HOME with them and another football player in a cab back to his place, cries rape despite the fact her BAL is .10 at the time of the alleged incident with NO TRACES OF DRUGS in her system....tells the cops it was rape, describes Jameis as being almost 6 inches shorter, claims she didn't know who he was, then tells multiple conflicting stories to TPD...then says she didn't want to press charges...this girl is credible?

There is nothing forgotten about this woman. Whether it was she or someone else close to her family who leaked it to Matt Baker of the St Pete Times (who "coincidentally" covered her as a volleyball player in Zephyrhills) ...someone did and wanted this to come out at exactly the right time as Jameis became a Heisman contender for a payday.

Mark Gerragos called this exactly what this appears to be. A case of consensual sex where a girl changed her story and "concocted": this mess because of regret, or embarrassment, or both then let this blow up almost a year later in hopes of a payday.

Good luck with a civil trial. There is a 0% chance she wins a dime at civil trial.

This wasn't a failure of law enforcement. It was a failure of our sorry media to ask tougher questions of the alleged incident. Its funny how only one side got leaked out during the investigation, then the facts supporting Winston's side buried in that SAO report are buried, never to be reported again.

I think Winston should sue for defamation. He has a treasure trove of evidence on his side. Its hard to prove intent, but worth a try.

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