State Attorney Cops to ‘Dropping of the Ball’ in Winston Case
WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - After weeks of speculation, ultimately, no charges were brought against Heisman Trophy candidate and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, for sexual battery allegations dating back to Dec. 2012.
Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs – a graduate of Florida Sate University who led the investigation before announcing Thursday no charges would be brought against Winston - joined CBS Sports Radio’s Chris Moore Thursday evening to clarify his decision.
Meggs admitted in the interview there had probably been a “dropping of the ball” in the highly-scrutinized Winston case.
“I really think there was probably a little dropping of the ball, and it was not until a media inquiry came in that the case was brought to us,” Meggs told Moore.
“There was no new evidence at that time that came to light to bring this case out to the forefront, and you know, I don’t say this lightly, but we have a lot of things brought to us for the final decision, and this is one of those cases,” Meggs said. “I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not very profitable at this point, for me to be critical of the police.”
“The case is what it is,” he continued. “We were able to, I believe, gather enough facts to make a right decision; would have been better to have been doing it earlier – there were people who should have been interviewed earlier, there were things that should have been done earlier; they weren’t – but I think we got to the right decision. It just took us 13 days to do it.”
“I’m sure the victim’s attorney and some of our media folks have questioned the legitimacy of the investigation, and you know, there’s a change in the Chief of Police in Tallahassee,” he would say in the interview. “I don’t know how much impact this has on that, or what the new chief will in fact do, but I’m running the State Attorney’s office, and I deal with things as they come to us.”
Meggs also admitted prosecutors initially planned to charge Winston, although, he says that’s nothing out of the ordinary, as the goal is always to charge someone once a case has been brought to his office and proven to be legitimate.
“We had a complaint, and you view those as valid complaints, and then you keep working toward it,” Meggs told Moore.
“In you mind, is there a victim in this case,” Moore asked.
“Yes, there’s several,” Meggs said.
“Well, I mean, the alleged victim, is she in your mind a victim, after going through all the evidence,” Moore prodded further.
“Yes, I believe she is,” Meggs said. “I believe she certainly has the right to claim the status of being a victim. And some of it could be victims of her own doings, but certainly, I think we had a victim here. Yes, sir.”
Meggs believes time “absolutely” was a factor in the decision not to bring charges in the case, as well as the victim’s shaky memory of the incident.
“Not being able to remember certain events that, you know, that if you looked at it, you would say, ‘Well, the person either had to be drugged or intoxicated,’” Meggs said. “And that was a factor when we did our test and found out that she had been drinking, but she was not what we would call intoxicated.
“And we found no evidence of anybody slipping her any kind of drug or sedative or something like that, that would cause her not to remember. So that was a problem, trying to figure out why can’t she remember some events and remember others?”
While the victim wasn’t pleased with the State Attorney’s decision, Meggs admits, she kind of understood the difficulties in moving forward with the case.
“Memories may have been a little bit better had we been on it in December of ’12, if need be, but we weren’t, but there’s not a lot of profit in pointing fingers and laying blame on an agency. There are plenty of folks who will do that.”
As mentioned previously, Meggs is an FSU graduate, but said that had no bearing on his decision, nor did college football’s timeline for selecting a Heisman candidate.
“I’ve been doing this job all of my adult life,” Meggs stated. “I understand the criminal justice system, I believe, as well, probably as anybody. I can do my job. If I ever have a conflict or feel like I’m conflicted, I know how to deal with that and I would get someone else to do it. I felt no conflict being a graduate of FSU. I’m not ashamed of being a graduate, but that has nothing to do with my prosecutorial decisions.”
Heisman votes have to be in by Monday. Meggs attributes awaiting for lab results for the timing of his announcement, which was expedited by nearly a week from its previously scheduled time.
“My timetable is, when we get done, we’re gonna make an announcement,” Meggs went on to say.