Watching sports, especially football, is a refuge for many of us and a way to escape the grind of our daily lives. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system has all too often entered the realm of the sports world lately. Whether it is Michael Vick and dog fighting, the tragic Penn State saga, or the allegations against Ben Roethlisberger, we often find that the sports world mirrors the troubles of everyday life and is not the escape we desired.
One more recent example came to light this week which involves Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, a top contender for the Heisman Trophy and the likely number one pick in the 2014 NFL draft. A former Florida State co-ed alleged that Winston sexually assaulted her in December of 2012.
The case is under investigation by the Tallahassee Police Department but remained inactive because the accuser had broken off contact with the investigating detective. The case became public last week when media outlets began requesting copies of the sexual assault report involving Winston.
As a result, two important facts have come to light: 1) ESPN reported that a DNA sample provided by Winston to law enforcement matched DNA found in the underwear of the accuser; 2) the accuser, through her attorney, issued a statement criticizing the Tallahassee Police Department’s handling of the case saying that a police detective had warned her not to proceed with the charges because “Tallahassee was a big football town and…her life would be miserable” if Winston was charged.
Although the DNA finding is not proof of Winston’s guilt, the evidence supports the accuser’s allegations that she and Winston were in close contact on December 7, 2012.
The Winston case is typical of many in the criminal system when one adult accuses another of a sexual assault. Often the accused’s defense is that the sexual contact was not forced but consensual.
The problem, of course, is who does the detective believe? Who is telling the truth and who is lying? What, if anything, can or should be done by the person accused of such serious allegations?
In these situations, the accused needs to retain counsel immediately and during the investigation. The accused cannot wait until charges are filed. An experienced lawyer can assist a client caught in such a trap.
For example, I represented a young man under investigation for sexual assault a few years ago. Although admitting to sexual contact with the accuser, he successfully countered the allegation by showing it was likely consensual. Numerous meetings with the detective, the hiring of a private investigator who interviewed the accuser, and a passed polygraph exam resulted in the detective not charging my client.
The bottom line for any person accused, like Jameis Winston, of sexual assault must retain experienced counsel immediately.
Have you been accused of a crime, currently undergoing an investigation, or charged with a crime? Your best defense it to hire an attorney who can help you get the best results. W. Joseph Edwards has represented thousands of clients and has over 30 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney. For a case evaluation, contact Joe at 614.309.0243. Available 24/7.