Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local Sports

December 4, 2013

WINSTON WATCH

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The prosecutor overseeing the investigation of sexual assault allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston said Wednesday that it is completed.

State Attorney Willie Meggs has scheduled a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday in his office to announce his findings. Meggs said investigators have learned as much as they can about the December 2012 incident.

"We think we have exhausted all investigative tools," he said.

Winston has led the Seminoles to the No. 1 ranking, and they will play for a conference title Saturday, with a shot at the national crown.

The quarterback also is the leading candidate for the Heisman, and many voters are waiting to see whether Winston will be charged with a crime before casting their ballots. The deadline for Heisman ballots to be turned in is Dec. 9.

ESPN has previously reported that DNA belonging to Winston was found in the underwear of the accuser. A lawyer for Winston has suggested that the star quarterback and the accuser had consensual sex. But the family of the victim has accused the 19-year-old of rape.

Meggs has said he wanted to make sure prosecutors completed a thorough investigation before making a final decision. He has also said several times that it's up to prosecutors to determine whether there is a "reasonable" chance of conviction.

The fact that Meggs has scheduled a news conference — as opposed to getting a warrant for Winston's arrest — could be seen as a sign that he will not file charges.

Timothy Jansen, the attorney representing Winston, said he does not know what Meggs will announce.

"We're hoping and waiting like everyone else, and we believe the evidence will exonerate Mr. Winston," Jansen said.

Patricia Carroll, the attorney representing the accuser, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The alleged sexual assault was first reported to police in December. The family has said the victim did not know the identity of her attacker until early January, when she identified him as Winston.

The family has been sharply critical of the way Tallahassee police have handled the case. The family says they pushed to have a DNA sample taken from Winston only to be told by a police detective that it would alert Winston and make the case public.

Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case and said it was placed on inactive status in February after police were told the alleged victim did not wish to prosecute the case. Carroll has denied that the woman wanted to drop the investigation.

The alleged victim was an FSU student during the December incident, but she left school after Carroll was told by police that information about the case was about to be released to the media.

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