In an interview with ABC News, Pat Carroll, the attorney for Jameis Winston's alleged rape victim, said that she "absolutely" plans to file a civil lawsuit against the Winston — FSU's star quarterback and recent Heisman Trophy winner, whose sexual assault investigation was recently dropped — as well as against the Tallahassee Police Department.
Winston's accuser alleges that he raped her in December 2012 (Winston's attorney maintains that the two had consensual sex). The accuser called the police roughly two hours after her assault; when they arrived, they took a rape kit and interviewed her. According to her account, after she identified Winston as her attacker a few days later, one of the detectives working on the case told her attorney that "Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against him because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable." The victim's family claims that the detective also originally refused to collect Winston's DNA or interview his roommate, a possible witness.
From there, the case was botched on several occasions. The Tallahassee police claim that the victim's family broke off contact in March; her family, however, maintains that "they were always available if the police needed them." In addition to the miscommunications, the case was plagued by immense delays — this timeline, compiled by the Tampa Bay Times, is a veritable catalog of error and oversight. Some highlights: the police didn't receive the victim's rape kit until August 27, 2013. Law enforcement officials didn't forward the case files to the state attorney's office until November 12 — notably, days after TMZ and the Tampa Bay Times asked for copies of the incident report. Winston was not asked for a DNA swab until November 14. And, finally, on December 5, 2013 — after nearly a year of delay — State Attorney Willie Meggs announced that Winston would not face prosecution for sexual assault due to a lack of evidence.
"Absolutely you're going to see a civil suit," Carroll told ABC. "You cannot have law enforcement that is not held accountable." Warning an alleged rape victim that reporting her crime could make her life "miserable," then handling the case so ineptly that there's no chance of even bringing her case to court, is the exact opposite of what law enforcement is supposed to do. To call the Tallahassee police "negligent" would be an understatement.
And, of course, the toxic, blind football worship apparently doesn't stop at the police department. Carroll claims that Georgia Cappleman, deputy assistant state attorney in Florida, warned her client not to return to FSU because she would be "in physical danger." (Cappleman denies ever making such a warning.) She also states that she and her client have received several death threats from FSU football fans. Sadly, as we've seen in countless other sexual assault cases involving team sports, the rights of the alleged sexual assault victim are seen as negligible compared to the rights of the beloved, game-winning athlete. But the accuser and her family refuse to accept this as the status quo — when asked what her desired outcome for the civil suit is, Carroll responded, "I want heads to roll."
Images via AP.