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Prosecutor decries police handling of Winston rape probe

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William Meggs, the Florida state’s attorney charged with handling the investigation into the allegations of rape made against Jameis Winston last year, did not hide the fact that, in his opinion, the initial investigation was not handled properly by the Tallahassee Police Department.

In a New York Times “expose” published Wednesday morning, Meggs was on the offensive yet again.  Meggs assailed the TPD probe on multiple fronts, from failing to readily identify a witness — who also happened to be one of Winston’s teammates — to apparent nonchalance when it came to a crucial tip involving a taxi cab to its handling of Winston in the early stages of the investigation.

On the night in question, in December of 2012, Winston and at least two of his teammates, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, were at a Tallahassee bar named Potbelly’s.  It was there that the three met up with the alleged victim, had a few drinks and then took off in a taxi with the woman.  At some point a few hours, a 911 call was made, alleging she was raped.

It was the investigation — or lack thereof — that has Meggs speaking out more than four months after his office decided against filing charges against Winston.  And, in somewhat of an unexpected turn, Meggs made his strongest comments to date on the case:

– On the TPD failing to find Casher, who allegedly videotaped a portion of the encounter, in a timely manner, possibly leading to the loss of key evidence:

In the recent interview, Mr. Meggs said he was surprised that the police had not quickly found Mr. Casher. “How long does it take to identify a freshman football player — about 10, 15, 16 seconds?” he asked, adding, “Anybody that looked at this case would say you get a report at 2 in the morning, by noon you could have had the defendant identified and talked to.”

Casher allegedly deleted the video “a couple of days” after Winston’s encounter with the alleged victim, well before he was ever contacted and interviewed by police.

– One of the three football players used an FSU ID to get a discounted fare for the taxi.  TPD investigators failed to find the driver of the cab, as well as failed to secure videotape from myriad security cameras positioned in and around the Tallahassee bar that could have shed some light on the incident:

“I am convinced that we would have identified the cabdriver that night and had an interview with him,” Mr. Meggs said. “Don’t know what we would have learned, but we would have learned the truth. I am also convinced that had it been done properly, we would have had the video from Potbelly’s.

By the time the prosecutor [Meggs] asked for that video, the tape had long since been recycled.

– The TPD’s initial encounter with Winston regarding the allegations came via the telephone, which allowed the player the opportunity to “lawyer up” before he could be questioned:

Mr. Meggs said he was shocked that the police investigator’s first attempt to contact Mr. Winston was by telephone. “He says, ‘I have baseball practice, I’ll get with you later,’” Mr. Meggs said. That call allowed Mr. Winston to hire a lawyer who told him not to talk.

“It’s insane to call a suspect on the phone,” Mr. Meggs said. “First off, you don’t know who you are talking to.” He said he would have gone straight to the baseball field. “If you walked up to Jameis Winston in the middle of baseball practice and said, ‘Come here, son, I need to talk to you,’ he would have said, ‘Yes, sir.’”

In summation, Meggs stated that the TPD “just missed all the basic stuff that you are supposed to do” during the course of an investigation of this type, although he stopped well short of accusing the department in general and the investigating officer specifically of willful misconduct because of Winston’s status as a Seminoles football player. Meggs was also quick to caution, as the Times wrote, that “a better investigation might have yielded the same result,” which was no charges being filed against Winston.

In mid-November, after reports of the probe had surfaced publicly, Meggs vowed that his office would get to the bottom of the allegations, a report of which had only recently been forwarded to him by the TPD — 11 months after the alleged rape and only after an open records request from news organizations seemingly forced the department’s hand.  Three weeks later in a press conference announcing no charges would be filed against Winston, Meggs said his investigation didn’t find enough evidence to prove that the sexual encounter between the player and the alleged victim was not consensual.

A short time later, the attorney for Winston’s accuser called for an investigation into the TPD’s handling of the case.  The feds have also reportedly gotten involved on the university side of the situation, with reports coming to light earlier this month that the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched its own investigation into FSU’s handling of the case.

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22 Responses to “Prosecutor decries police handling of Winston rape probe”
  1. woebegong says: Apr 16, 2014 8:47 AM

    It would appear to this untrained legal mind, that all of this bad publicity about botched investigations and messed up legal procedures, is going to help out the young lady and her parents in going forward with their civil suite.

  2. dhardy8207 says: Apr 16, 2014 9:08 AM

    “Mr. Meggs said he was shocked that the police investigator’s first attempt to contact Mr. Winston was by telephone. “He says, ‘I have baseball practice, I’ll get with you later,’” Mr. Meggs said. That call allowed Mr. Winston to hire a lawyer who told him not to talk.”

    WTH?…Anyone else would have been taken to the police department for interview, or they would have had the police knocking on their door…

    “In summation, Meggs stated that the TPD “just missed all the basic stuff that you are supposed to do” during the course of an investigation of this type”

    And this will cost the city of Tallahassee in a civil judgement. I’m still wondering what FSU’s response was and how timely. If they drug their feet like the TPD did then it could very well cost them some bucks also…

  3. sfsugator says: Apr 16, 2014 9:39 AM

    Gold digger

  4. titansbro says: Apr 16, 2014 10:33 AM

    Famous Amos ain’t got no gold yet ya dummy.

    It was obviously a cover up. It’s naive to think otherwise. Maybe it was consensual, who really knows? But TPD & FSU were not going to take that chance.

  5. blacknole08 says: Apr 16, 2014 10:38 AM

    Well duh. Of course TPD botched the investigation. This is nothing new. And I’m a huge Nole fan and alum.

    With that said, the investigation still happened and Winston was cleared. Meggs didn’t pursue charges so he can shut the hell up too. End of discussion.

  6. blacknole08 says: Apr 16, 2014 10:50 AM

    Go ahead and disagree all you want. The girl kept changing her story. Darby and Casher admitted their roles in the investigation and will likely be punished by the university. If you don’t want to listen to the facts and rely on conjecture and an over-reaching prosecutor, then go right ahead.

  7. harveyredman says: Apr 16, 2014 10:51 AM

    @blacknole08 says:…

    Dumbest comment on the board all day. Congrats on your unique display of stupid. Right up there with @sfsugator’s “gold digger” post.

    You guys must have the same mother, and of course neither know who papa is…

  8. catfish252 says: Apr 16, 2014 10:57 AM

    Thats some fine detective work there Barney. Thanks Andy.

    I know where I am going for my next crime spree, Hello Tallahassee.

  9. blacknole08 says: Apr 16, 2014 11:01 AM

    What’s so dumb about saying that TPD is crooked? They really should be investigated.

    I don’t kno and have never met Sfsugators. And I don’t think his, or anyone elses opinions on here are stupid. We don’t know what really happened. But an investigation was done, re-opened when Winston became popular to the masses, and ultimately no charges were filed. That to me is very shady, especially since Winston was the Heisman front-runner and we were well on our way to Pasadena. But it is what it is.

  10. soflosportsfan says: Apr 16, 2014 11:06 AM

    “although he stopped well short of accusing the department in general and the investigating officer specifically of willful misconduct because of Winston’s status as a Seminoles football player.”

    Of course Winston’s status of being a football had ZERO effect on the investigation.

  11. mogogo1 says: Apr 16, 2014 11:17 AM

    It bugs me when athletes get off easy but this is an odd case to try and make an example of. This girl has more holes in her story than Swiss cheese. Said she had a head injury but the doctors found nothing, said she thinks she was drugged but nothing in the tests, was happily texting her friend directly before and after being with Winston…. Any reasonable person looking at the details will conclude the investigation went nowhere because there was nothing to investigate.

  12. jimmy53 says: Apr 16, 2014 11:41 AM

    This NY Times slanted hit piece left out quite a few pertinent facts–such as:

    statements from the school, from Winston’s previous legal team, from the police;

    that the accuser gave several different, inconsistent accounts in multiple interviews with police;

    That Greg Dent, a player of more notoriety at the time of his alleged incident than Winston was at the time of his arrest, was arrested and is being tried for rape without any suggestion of police impropriety or favoritism;

    that a second semen sample was also found;

    that the accuser cut off contact with and declined to cooperate with police (USA Today, November 27) ;

    that her blood sample was tested three times for drugs, including once by an FBI lab, and none were found,

    That Travis Johnson, referenced but not by name in the final paragraphs, was acquitted in 30 minutes by an all-female jury in a case many believe should never have been prosecuted, etc.,

  13. cometkazie says: Apr 16, 2014 12:16 PM

    “Just call me Crystal . . . .”

  14. cajunirish says: Apr 16, 2014 12:21 PM

    If as many mistakes as are alleged were actually made, then either the entire TPD is made up of incompetent fools or they were willfully committed. The newest rookie there wouldn’t have screwed it up that badly. And before the TPD defense comes out, keep in mind I have over a decade of law enforcement experience behind me and am usually the first to defend the police.

  15. noleitup says: Apr 16, 2014 12:21 PM

    Cant believe this is still being talked about. Its over

  16. bonerchamp says: Apr 16, 2014 12:34 PM

    The inaction by the police make it seem like there we a cover up. The time frame, the Meggs investigation and the “victims” in accuracies make it seem like this is being rehashed for monetary purposes.

    The only thing I would ask the Nole fans who are so dismissive, if this was your sister/daughter, what would you think ?

  17. guinsrule2 says: Apr 16, 2014 12:36 PM

    “Mr. Meggs said he was shocked that the police investigator’s first attempt to contact Mr. Winston was by telephone. “He says, ‘I have baseball practice, I’ll get with you later,’” Mr. Meggs said. That call allowed Mr. Winston to hire a lawyer who told him not to talk.”

    Because the last thing the police want is someone actually invoking their right to remain silent and their right to have a lawyer present to inform them of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Police only have to inform someone of their Miranda rights if a person is taken into “custody” but someone can use those rights at any time when questioned by police.

  18. reesesteel23 says: Apr 16, 2014 1:30 PM

    Didn’t this hoe have like 4 different men’s semen samples in her underwear?…..Come on man…

  19. gatorprof says: Apr 16, 2014 1:43 PM

    Not the reason FSU wants to make headlines in the NYT.

  20. musketmaniac says: Apr 16, 2014 3:01 PM

    sounds like a Pittsburgh Steelers first round draft choice.

  21. onlyoneleft says: Apr 16, 2014 8:08 PM

    I think that this is far from over.

  22. 8to80texansblog says: Apr 22, 2014 2:43 PM

    I love hearing the Willie Meggs and Travis Johnson case and how Meggs has it out for FSU.

    Don’t you think that maybe Meggs was embarrassed by that trial and maybe this time he is erring on the side of caution….

    Just maybe is that possible?

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