A young woman is raped after a night drinking at a bar, tearfully reports it to the police the next day, and then this happens.
The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter. After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.
The detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report and then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser. By the time the prosecutor got the case, important evidence had disappeared, including the video of the sexual act.
Jameis Winston was the star quarterback at Florida State. That makes him a very important person.
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of football to Florida State and its hometown. In Tallahassee, rooting for the Seminoles is a matter of identity and economy. The 2013 championship season generated millions of dollars for the athletic department and city businesses, and favorable publicity beyond measure.
Patricia A. Carroll, a lawyer for Mr. Winston’s accuser, said the police investigator who handled the case, Scott Angulo, told her that because Tallahassee was a big football town, her client would be “raked over the coals” if she pursued the case.
Apparently, part of the recruiting package at Florida State is rape privileges.
Isn’t it about time we ended the corrupting influence of high end college sports?
Isn’t it about time that these deliberately useless officers were prosecuted as accessories?
Ideally, I’d go further than that. If it were up to me, there’d be a point beyond which those obstructing an enquiry bear collective responsibility for the culprit’s future actions. If he’s prosecuted for further rapes then so are they.
Only when there’s the prospect of severe punishment will this kind of thing stop.
I can’t imagine wanting to give anyone a pass on rape because of their social status…
…okay, that’s not true. I CAN imagine it, I can see it happening in the world around me, and I don’t fucking like it.
Sadly, I’m not really surprised. Even more sadly, the officer in charge will likely get no more than a slap on the wrist. Cops protect cops.
Yes, let’s go out of our way to remind people that the slut was probably lying, after all.
Sexism 101 Link Roundup, in before the asshole brigade arrives. They’ll still ignore this of course, but at least this way it’ll be nice and clear that they didn’t read the thread before posting.
Marc Abian says
The police don’t seem to have investigated very thoroughly. Is there any sort of oversight when that happens? It’s strange to me that police can essentially seem to not bother and it’s no problem unless and sometimes even the story gets into the media.
From the article:
Apparently, this is a systemic problem.
Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk- says
Too many times.
Matt Wright says
It’s a shame as a police officer to see such abuse and cowardice. Coercing a victim by telling her she’ll be ‘raked over the coals’, how shameful. I would like to say I’m surprised that an external investigation hasn’t been launched, but I’m not…
The rich and/or famous getting special treatment from the police. What a surprise.
The Other Lance says
Can’t have the Tallahasee PoPo loosing their sports bets because they arrested the star quarterback, can we?
Seems like standard operating procedure. Cops and DAs don’t care about rape victims unless the victim and attacker fall within very specific guidelines.
What’s sad is how incredibly unsurprising this story is. I’ve seen so many stories like this even without a football star being involved, though I expect the utter failure of the investigators to even attempt to gather any evidence suggests that his status got him even more protection. Just sickening.
This is a terrifying and depressing article.
One minor correction from your post, however. Winston was not the star quarterback when the allegations occurred. He was on the team, but was redshirting his freshman year and had not played in any games. It is a fairly insignificant point to the overall issue given that the officer in charge of the investigation was intimately familiar with the FSU team and was aware of who Winston was because he was a top-notch recruit. But I suspect there will be people who try to defend the investigation by pointing out that Winston had not yet become “the star quarterback for FSU,” and thus, his football ability did not play a role in the investigation. That’s probably not true (although I hate to add that it is entirely possible that the police routinely botch any rape investigations this badly, regardless of whether the perp is a football player or not).
I don’t understand how this is possible. How do they know it has gone missing? To know that something went missing you have to know it was there before, don’t you? And if they know it was there before it should be no problem to present this evidence in court.
@Compuholic – They have a witness who claims he saw entirely consensual sex who taped some of it on his phone, deleted the video the next day, and no longer even has that phone. There was security footage at the bar where the event occurred, but it has been recorded over as the system basically recycles memory/storage/tape/whatever it is after some time.
Basically, the officer in charge obstructed his own investigation until all the evidence could be destroyed before the prosecutor even knew about it. So the case in court would now amount to three football players who say it was consensual versus one victim who says otherwise. Police obstruction turned what might have been a case with solid evidence into a he said/she said with two witnesses on the side of the accused. That there’s been no discipline for an officer so derelict in his duty is stunning.
@boyofd – Colleges red shirt freshmen for a reason. The athletic department knew he was going to be a star player, then they made a call to the police department to discuss the case. Wonder what they said?
Gregory Greenwood says
These corrupt arseholes really will do anything to avoid prosecuting rapes outside their narrow definition of ‘legitimate rape’, up to and including perversion of the course of justice. I cannot express how disgusted (but, sadly, not in the least surprised) I am.
Threatening the victim with having her own life put on trial by the bigoted, rape apologist arsehats that infest the community. It should be hard to imagine how anyone could sink so low, but we have seen it all too often before.
Something needs to be done, but I am too angry to come up with any practical suggestions right now. The sick calculus that underpins this official rape apologia is one of the worst aspects of all.
So that is the value our culture places upon women. Apparently, the safety, emotional and physical wellbeing, and bodily autonomy of women are as nothing when set against something as petty as money and identity politics in the eyes of all too many people.
If that isn’t an indictment upon contemporary society then I don’t know what is.
Gregory Greenwood says
boyofd @ 12;
Gussnarp has already pointed out @ 15 that this player was probably already earmarked as a potential future starplayer, but even leaving that side there is another possibility – that simply being involved in college football, even as a player who is not fantastically sought after or skilled, is enough to offer you social privilege to the extent that every effort will be made to cover up involvement in rape. The idea that the college football player in the abstract embodies the ‘all American hero’ (a detestable concept tailor made to excuse abuse and corruption if ever there was one), largely irrespective of the sporting ability of the indiviual in question, and that it is this elite status conferred upon the sport, and thus the privilege it offers to both contemporary and former players, that is being protected as much as any individual.
Like PZ says in the OP, there seems to be an unwritten understanding that rape privileges form part of the recruitment package.
Wow, simply wow. What a coincidence.
I’m not an expert in U.S. law (or any law for that matter). But isn’t it also a crime to disrupt an ongoing investigation? It probably never will get prosecuted but if I was the judge at such a trial I would want to know exactly what the officer did on every freaking day of those 2 months that was so important.
Kevin Alexander says
It’s called the Droite de Seigneur. It’s a common feature of human nature that also applies to other things that are called crimes when peasants do them.
Oh, like financial fraud. :-(
I wonder if they would still be concerned about the financial impact if Winston had been accused of assaulting a white man or police officer.
Of course, as long as it doesn’t interfere with generating millions of dollars for city businesses. Priorities, PZ, priorities.
Crimson Clupeidae says
Nope. No rape culture at all, nosiree.
Nothin’ ta see here, movealong.
Off Topic but possibly relevant to your interests
PZ have you seen the report about Victor Barnard of the River Road Fellowship? He’s finally in court
Ooops link to Raw Story missed
Rich Woods says
I’d like to think that Ms Carroll suggested, in return, that if it had been the governor’s daughter (assuming the governor of Florida has a daughter — ah, I see he has two) who was accusing Mr Winston of rape, would Mr Angulo still expect her to be “raked over the coals”? I’d also like to think that Mr Angulo would then reconsider his position and reassess the value of his actions to date, but in reality I wouldn’t hold out much hope.
Just to be clear, I don’t think we are disagreeing with each other. I noted that Winston was a star recruit, and was someone whom the investigator probably knew because of his apparent work with the AD office. I was not suggesting that his redshirt status at the time of the rape precluded him from receiving special treatment from the police, and admitted as much. I also just want the details to be clear because others might make that argument considering that this story broke during the middle of Winston’s Heisman season.
In fact, you could argue that this makes the claim of rape even more believable because it is less likely that a college student would be caught up in the star status of having sex with a player who is redshirting. Small difference, but it helps undermine the common defense of Winston that she consented to have sex with a football star and then got mad when he made it clear it was a one-night stand.
Although the Athletics Department may have supported the rapist after he was identified, the fact that there was a delay before he was identified (during which the police were already apparently lackadaisical) is quite damning and seems to suggest that this failure was more the result of rape culture rather than of privilege for athletes. The assumption that women who are raped while drunk “deserve it” leads, as we see in this case, to total apathy on the part of many investigators.
Jacob Schmidt says
Anyone who tries defending the police that way is an idiot. The police go from defending an accused rapist because he’s socially privileged to defending an accused rapist for no reason at all.
Brett Powers says
Good grief. I agree with Herr Doktor Myers on something? This may require an agonizing reappraisal.
Brett Power #29
I was under the impression that PZ was of Scandinavian ancestry, not German. Am I misremembering or are you just being a shitfaced idiot?
Taking a cue from Darkmatter2525…
“Our top story tonight, tragedy has struck the city of Tallahassee, Florida, as every football stadium in the state simultaneously collapsed overnight. Eyewitnesses reported seeing stadium walls crumbling to dust and being swept away by winds as fields were consumed by sinkholes, leaving gaping craters. With nowhere to play their home games, Florida State has been left with no choice but to forfeit all remaining home games of this season and future seasons until new fields can be built.
This sudden catastrophe immediately followed the affliction of star player Jameis Winston with brittle bone disease, bringing his football career to an abrupt halt.”
“In other news, the Tallahassee police department reports several officers have been hospitalized after mysteriously suffering third-degree burns. Doctors report that the burns suggest that the officers were consistent with being raked over hot coals, but no traces of coal were found in the vicinities.”
See, if something like that happened, and happened consistently in such situations, I might start thinking that there was some supernatural being, infinitely good, who watched over the world.
As it is, there’s no way around the simple conclusion: If we want a better world, we have to make one. Nobody is going to serve us paradise on a silver plate.
I’m probably in the extreme minority on this point, but the best thing a university can do is to get rid of its two major sports – football and basketball. First, most of these sports are parasitic and only benefit the athletic departments and not the university itself. These sports have become large money making rackets that have virtually nothing to do with educating students. Second, it invites situations like this Jameis Winston case to occur. Third, college coaches make an obscene amount of money, often at the level of corporate CEO’s. Fourth, even with athletic scholarships, often the kids don’t make enough to afford food, as was the case with Shabbaz Napier of the national champions UConn, who apparently often went to bed hungry during the season. Fifth, only a minority of a minority of athletes (1/1000 or less) ever become professionals so making sports an idol sets up false hopes for college athletes who should instead focus on getting an education. Sixth, with TV contracts etc., only a handful of schools attract the top athletes so the whole idea of these being competitive sports is a total farce anyway. Seventh, especially for football, modern knowledge of concussions has made any sane parent to keep their kids the hell the way from football if they have any sense. I am not opposed to giving scholarships to athletes. However especially football and basketball have become travesties that have virtually nothing to do with athletics or education and everything to do with money. The best thing a college can do is get rid of their football and basketball programs for starters, or transfer to division II, where kids play these sports for the sport and not with delusions of becoming pros.
Dalillama, Schmott Guy says
On top of what everyone else has said, this bit:
is essentially total bullshit. While I’m certain that it is true that the 2013 championship season generated a temporary spike in business in some parts of the city, an occasional, unpredictable (I assume the team doesn’t make the championships every time), temporary, and not terribly large spike in revenue for a few tourist-oriented businesses is a pretty poor ROI for the amount of money funneled into the sports program, and almost any other use of the money (short of just writing checks directly to the ultrawealthy or setting fire to it or the like) would generate a much larger overall economic benefit.
This is an old story in Tallahassee. I was a student there in the 70s. There were many many similar incidents involving FSU or FAMU players. It was always hushed up or dropped as quickly as possible because nothing must disrupt our football!
David Marjanović says
What a clusterfuck.
Provided, of course, that there’s the prospect of actually getting caught.
Only in America, my friend. Only in America.
I’m from Canada and the amount of money and importance put on University sport is simply not comparable, but I would not be sad to see even that go. I find what goes on in the US related to school and university sport to be absolutely ludicrous and I cannot understand why there is not a huge movement to get rid of it. In general culture surrounding pro sports confuses me, and the school sports culture is truly amazingly hard to comprehend.
Dalillama, Schmott Guy says
Indeed, likelihood of consequences is a far greater portion of the deterrent effect than severity of consequences (within limits, obviously; a consistent slap-on-the wrist can be and is routinely ignored, so the punishment has to be at least at a point where being applied consistently is going to actually cause people to think twice about what they’re going to do.)
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Well, I thought that was implied: there’s obviously not a prospect of punishment if there isn’t a prospect of coming under the power of those who punish.
I say this only to protect the honor of hyper death, of course. My point is that we were probably all in agreement from the get go.
Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says
Darn that autocorrect: I really do know that hyperdeath is one word.
LyleX @ 30:
(spoilers) The second one.
David Marjanović says
It’s a common situation worldwide that something is forbidden on pain of lots of pain, but lots of people do it anyway because the laws are not or only selectively or sporadically enforced. Smuggling important fossils in (or out of) China, clearcutting rainforest in national parks in Malaysia and Indonesia… That’s what I was thinking about.
Nick Gotts says
Ah, another fuckwit who thinks referring to an American professor of Scandinavian descent at an American University by a German title is witty or makes a political point (because Nazis!!!!), but can’t even get the title right: it would be “Herr Professor Doktor Myers”.
Derek Borgen says
What disturbed me, at a personal level, was that my wife, a FSU grad, dismissed the allegations without any research. “She’s lying,” was her belief. When I tried to get her to at least read the articles, she just called me a bitter Gator fan. The National Title was much more important to her than the truth, whatever it may be.