Police Under Scrutiny for Handling of FSU Star Assault Case
Its handling of sexual assault allegations against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is just the latest controversy to hit the Tallahassee Police Department.
A handful of grand juries recently have issued scathing reports about how some officers have conducted themselves in the line of duty.
Now, the department is coming under scrutiny for its handling of a sexual assault case in which a Heisman Trophy candidate stands as the accused. The family of the student who says she was raped claims the department tried to squelch the case: It took 11 months for Tallahassee police to hand over information to prosecutors.
Patricia Carroll, the attorney representing the alleged victim in the Winston case, said she “had no faith whatsoever” in the Police Department.
On the same day the department handed over the Winston case to prosecutors, a Leon County grand jury issued a stinging report criticizing the department for how it handled a drunken driving arrest. The arrest — which left the female driver with a broken bone in her face — created such an uproar this fall that it prompted Chief Dennis Jones to abruptly retire.
Winston, 19, was a top freshman recruit and backup quarterback at the time of the alleged Dec. 7, 2012, assault. The alleged victim called police that night to report the incident.
Coe, the interim police chief, contends that the police pursued the case until February, when they were told that the victim no longer wanted to prosecute. The case was never closed, Coe insisted, only placed on inactive status.
That contradicts what Timothy Jansen, the attorney representing Winston, says he was told back in February. He says he was told the case was closed. But after two media organizations requested information about it was quickly turned over to local prosecutors.
Meanwhile, the alleged victim’s family insists that she wanted the case to go forward but was being pressured to drop it.
In two statements issued, the family maintained Patricia Carroll was told by a detective that Tallahassee is 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.”