In early December of last year, following a three-week investigation, the Florida State’s Attorney office announced that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that a sexual encounter between Jameis Winston and an alleged victim was not consensual, and that no sexual assault charges would be filed against the player. The state’s attorney in charge of that investigation, William Meggs, was highly critical of the Tallahassee Police Department’s investigation into the alleged rape in a New York Times report a handful of months later, a report in which the university subsequently expressed its disappointment.
Thanks at least in part to that Times report, however, the police in the college town are set to revamp how it handles complaints of sexual assault.
The Times wrote in an article Friday that the TPD “has begun working with a respected women’s advocacy group to rewrite its sexual assault complaint policy.” Additionally, the TPD will have all of its complaint policies, sexual assault and otherwise, reviewed by a Washington-based, non-profit research group
The executive director of the Refuge House told the paper that she is pleased with the steps the new police chief is taking.
“I applaud the chief of police’s initiative in both of these instance,” Meg Baldwin said.
Meggs unleashed a verbal barrage against the TPD in April, not the least of which involved detectives initially reaching out by phone to the Florida State quarterback in an attempt to get him in for questioning involving the alleged Dec. of 2012 rape. That tack failed as Winston lawyered up and was never interviewed by the TPD.
“It’s insane to call a suspect on the phone,” Meggs said in April. “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 a statement sent out in November 20, 2013 — exactly one week after reports of Winston being investigated for sexual assault surfaced — by the alleged victim’s family, it was claimed that the accuser’s attorney was warned by a Tallahassee Police detective that her client’s life “could be made miserable” if she pursued the complaint against Winston. The detective, the statement claimed, indicated that Tallahassee is “a big football town,” leaving the family to fear that the alleged victim could “be targeted on campus.”
The alleged victim, who was a Florida State student at the time of the alleged sexual assault, subsequently left school and moved out of state.
The family’s accusations led to a firestorm of criticism from the national media as well as women’s advocacy groups, and likely played a significant role in this policy development as well.