I took a screenshot of the Yahoo Sports tweet where I first learned that the accuser, who alleges that Florida State University football team quarterback Jaemis Winston sexually assaulted her, is going to hold a press conference (presumably with her lawyer) before the Heisman Trophy announcement. What does this really mean? This is the first step in a full-blown media campaign whose ultimate goal is to seek a large monetary settlement. The accuser is now going to try to extract a monetary settlement by using a full court press starting just before the Heisman trophy announcement. Jameis Winston, can show the world that the prosecution decision not to charge him, is correct. If he is innocent, he too can choose to step onto another court first- the law court. A pre-emptive strike- file the lawsuit against his accuser for defamation among other claims first.
I do not say this lightly. I was a prosecutor and trial team leader in Monmouth County, New Jersey. During that employment, I was at times the prosecutor appointed to the sex crimes unit. With that responsibility, I was also assigned by the first assistant prosecutor to develop the standardized sexual assault protocol for the hospital-law enforcement interaction. It involved drafting standardized medical investigation procedures and concomitant forms, selecting and providing the rape kits to the hospitals, and having the hospitals all agree to sign onto the new interdisciplinary, interagency, sexual assault protocol. All medical personal had to be trained in it along with police officers and investigators. I also had a close familial relative who was raped in her own home. So I come from a place of familiarity and involvement regarding sex crimes investigation and prosecution. I do not take either the lightly.
But neither do I take lightly the possibility that a charge, if improper, can ruin a person’s life. In fact, I distinctly remember a case where the blood proteins (pre- DNA) did not match the proteins of the semen found in the victim despite her eyewitness identification of the arrestee as the perpetrator of a brutal home invasion rape. Science proved that her eyewitness identification was flawed and I had to break the news to the victim. Sometimes science is involved in determining the truth of a claim of sexual assault but not in a he said- she said case where the defense is consent. That is the case in its proverbial nutshell of this female accuser versus FSU quarterback Jameis Winston.
I have reviewed the evidence released by the Florida’ State’s attorney in the Jameis Winston. The decision not to prosecute Winston is the right decision legally in my opinion based on my experience prosecuting sex crimes. I would have made the same decision as a prosecutor. Merely because someone claims sexual assault against a high profile person- athlete or otherwise- does not mean that such an unconsented to sex act occurred. I have seen false allegations made a number of times. It happens. When in private practice, a person claiming assault under some of the circumstances mimicking the Winston incident once consulted me, I refused to take the case. Some years later, I ran into the past prospective client who admitted to me that he/she had made up the claim and didn’t seek out other representation when I didn’t believe the story (after doing some investigation.) Had I taken the case I would have helped this client perpetrate a fraud- indeed a crime- on the system and the accused.
Us lawyers use media, social or otherwise in our cases. In today’s world, it is unavoidable. Earlier Winston’s lawyer Tim Jansen got into a flap with Heather Cox from ESPN. He essentially alleged that she had ambushed Winston by asking questions about the closed criminal case after the FSU win over Duke University for the ACC championship. On behalf of his client, who he has represented well in the criminal matter, he claimed:
FSU officials told her certain areas were off limits during the sideline interview. She agreed and then violated those terms.
But this type of kerfuffle with the media needs to be kept to a minimum now. In the long run it does not help Winston if the press turns against him because they start feeling the need to protect their own. This is especially important in the Cox/Jansen twitter engagement because the original charge against Jansen’s client is a claim of using power to assault a female. Winston needs to make the public- through the media- his friend and ardent supporter. His reputation and his future are on the line. It appears the accuser, through her press campaign, is on the verge of making her motto the iconic line from the 1996 movie Jerry McGuire – Show Me the Money. If she does, it could be very counterproductive to her credibility, which the State’s attorney has already put in issue. But at the same time, the public’s battle cry to Winston could very well be ‘Show Me Innocence.’
Categories: College Football | Jameis Winston | Linda Kenney Baden | NCAA | Sports Court Media | THE STARTING LINEUP