Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston not charged with sexual assault

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Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston will not be charged with sexual assault, state attorney Willie Meggs announced Thursday.

“We have a duty as prosecution to only file those charges if we have a reasonable likelihood of a conviction,” Meggs said Thursday. “After reviewing all the events we did not feel we could meet that burden.”

Meggs’ investigation concluded three weeks after reports surfaced that a woman told police she was raped by Winston last winter. A sexual encounter did occur, Meggs said, though he said his investigation didn’t find enough evidence to prove it was not consensual.

Winston’s DNA matched evidence from the day of the incident, though Winston’s Tallahassee-based attorney, Tim Jansen, has argued the encounter between the FSU quarterback and the accuser was consensual. The accuser’s family has denied that claim, and in a statement released last month said the accuser was told by Tallahassee police she would be “raked over the coals” for accusing an FSU player of rape.

Meggs stopped short of criticizing the Tallahassee Police Department for not initially pursuing the case, though said some things would’ve been easier for him had he been able to conduct his investigation last December or January, as opposed to a year after the incident.

“Obviously it would’ve been better if it had been handled a little different, a little earlier,” Meggs said. “But hindsight’s always 20/20.”

A search warrant was released to the public prior to Meggs’ announcement, in which details of the accusation are revealed (via the Associated Press):

In the warrant, the alleged victim told police she and friends had five to six shots at Potbellys and her “memory is very broken from that point forward.” She said she remembered being in a cab with a “non-descript” black man and going into an apartment where she was raped.

The alleged assault took place about a year ago. The woman didn’t identify Winston, who is black, until about a month later.

The warrant said she tried to fight the man off, and at some point, another man came into the room and told him to stop. But the two went into a bathroom “where he completed the act.”

Her next memory was of the suspect dressing her, putting her on a scooter and dropping her off at a campus intersection. She said she had no idea where the alleged assault took place.

Meggs said the accuser had some trouble remembering the events of the evening, though her BAC was only .04 when it was taken and no evidence of drugs were found in the accuser’s system.

Meggs’ investigation took so long because some unknown DNA was found, later discovered to be from the accuser’s boyfriend. That DNA was not associated with the accuser’s complaint. Meggs also added he never considered charging the accuser with filing a false report.

As for the timeline of Meggs’ investigation, it came to a conclusion two days before Winston and FSU play in the ACC Championship and four days before Heisman ballots are due. Meggs, though, said he never felt compelled to conclude his investigation to fit a timeline for Florida State football.

“There was no pressure,” Meggs said. “I have not consulted with the football schedule or who the starting quarterback might be or might not be.”

UPDATE: Florida State, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher and the accuser’s family released statements after Meggs’ press conference, and are both below.

From the accuser’s family and attorney, Patricia Carroll of Dade City, Fla.:

“The victim and her family appreciate the State Attorney’s efforts in attempting to conduct a proper investigation after an inordinate delay by the Tallahassee Police Department.

“The victim in this case had the courage to immediately report her rape to the police and she relied upon them to seek justice.

“The victim has grave concerns that her experience, as it unfolded in the public eye and through social media, will discourage other victims of rape from coming forward and reporting.”

From Florida State president Dr. Eric Barron:

“Recent weeks have provided a painful lesson, as we have witnessed harmful speculation and inappropriate conjecture about this situation and the individuals involved. As a result, we have all been hurt. A respect for the principle of due process is essential to the integrity of our community. Our commitment to each and every one of our students is unwavering and will remain our priority.”

From Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher:

“As you might imagine, I was pleased to hear that the State’s Attorney’s Office exonerated Jameis in the matter. I’m not going to answer any questions about the situation, but I would like to point out that our community and our university are blessed to have really good people in place to review matters like this. I know Jameis is pleased he can focus on being a student at a great university and he’s excited about helping our team achieve its goals this year. Right now, we’re all looking forward to what we have in front of us on Saturday.

Note: Winston was not actually exonerated, as Fisher’s statement reads. Meggs only determined there was not enough evidence to pursue a trial against him.

Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, said he was confident from “day one” that his client would not be charged:

Amidst medical mystery, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson withdraws from spring semester classes

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19: Anthony Jennings #11 of the Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns is pursued by Trenton Thompson #78 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.

First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.

In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:

Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.

As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.

Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.

Iowa State DB Mike Johnson suspended amid domestic violence arrest

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Keke Coutee #20 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders blocks defensive back Mike Johnson #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones as he rushed for yards in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.

She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.

“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”

Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

James Conner
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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Willie Taggart no longer speaking with Oregon beat reporter

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Willie Taggart walks the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on September 28, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde is now back at work after serving a 1-month, unpaid suspension resulting from three players being hospitalized after Oderinde’s first supervised workout with the Ducks, but the story is not over in Eugene.

According to Oregon’s student paper The Daily Emerald, Taggart is no longer speaking with the reporter who broke the story, The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart told the paper. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”

Greif, for his part, stands by the story and says the paper will not issue a retraction, as Taggart requested:

“Though the description of the workouts is understandably subjective, ultimately what has never been in doubt is that three UO players were hospitalized after the first week of offseason workouts and received treatment for several days,” Greif said in an email to the Emerald.

Complicating matters for Taggart is that the university commissioned faculty athletics rep Tim Gleason, a journalism professor, to review the report. In speaking with players, coaches, trainers and AD Rob Mullens, Gleason found the report not to be inaccurate.

“It’s not an unfair characterization; it’s just that the way it gets interpreted is regrettable,” Gleason said. “In the shorthand of journalism, it resulted in an impression that may not have been completely accurate.”

Also contradicting Taggart are members of his own staff, who said off-the-record that the workouts were “military-style.” Greif quoted them anonymously when inserting that phrase into the piece:

Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

It’s not clear where the story goes from here, except that Taggart made clear twice in his interview with the Emerald he has no plans to answer questions from Greif in the future.