New York Times: You’re Guilty Until Proven Innocent

As a graduate of Florida State University and a die hard fan in every sense of the word, it is not surprising that I immediately took notice of the New York Times article that was released today regarding the mishandling of the Jameis Winston case. While many FSU faithful would say “Don’t give the New York Times the satisfaction of reading this article”, I completely disagree. I think all FSU fans should thoroughly read this piece and all the comments associated with it.

I made an effort to review this piece in a way that separated my obvious bias towards FSU given that I am an alumni. However, seeing as I have followed this case so intently all the way through and have read Megg’s entire report, I feel that my perception of this article is quite different from a casual New York Times reader.

While this article surely does raise some solid points regarding the mishandling of sexual assault cases at Florida State and throughout our society, it is very clear to me that this a crafty piece of work by a journalist with an agenda.

For those of us who have truly followed this case, it is easy to see that this article covers a very targeted and select number of aspects of this case and arranges them in a way that is meant to paint a picture of Jameis Winston as GUILTY  beyond the shadow of a doubt. The author makes no effort to place any shred of credibility on the side of the accused, and edits the material that composes the article in such a way that makes it seem as if the alleged victim could not have possibly have falsely accused Winston.

Some examples of this targeted editing are as follows:

1) Near the beginning of the article, the author clearly insinuates that the alleged victim was roofied at Potbelly’s, stating “The woman did not appear drunk, her friends said. But after a stranger gave her a drink, she recounted, her memory became hazy and fragmented. Soon, she found herself in a taxi with three unfamiliar men, all of whom turned out to be Florida State football players.” What the article fails to mention is the toxicology report that was done on the alleged victim. Per an article from the Orlando Sentinel from December 6, 2013, “A toxicology test based on samples taken shortly after the woman reported the incident showed she was not intoxicated or under the influence of any drugs.” You would think that in such a thorough journalistic effort would at least point to these results if they are going to make such a bold inference as the use of a date rape drug. 

2) The article fails to mention, even once, the inconsistencies in alleged victim’s account of the event and the actions of her legal team in the aftermath. There are many that can be highlighted, but these are a few of the most glaring:

  • The accuser, in the original police report, identified the victim as being between the heights of 5 foot 9 inches and 6 foot 2 inches. This is clearly indicative of a person of average stature. Jameis Winston is 6 foot 4 inches.
  • The accuser originally claimed that she sent a text message to a friend about being in a taxi with someone she didn’t know. Cell phone records show that no text message of this sort was ever sent. The only text messages found to that friend from that night are ones asking about a missing ID (which is the only text the article mentions) and a later text about being at home.
  • The attorney of the accuser continually stated they wanted this case to stay out of the spotlight and away from media attention, yet continued to fuel the media fired by constantly releasing statements to the press such as this one, which is contradictory in and of itself:

3) The author very skillfully includes the portions of Chris Casher’s testimony that fit consistently with what the article has said up to that point. You will notice that the recording from Casher’s testimony is edited and cuts off before expressing the many quotes from him that indicate his staunch belief that the sexual event was consensual. If you would like to hear the entirety of the interview with Casher, you will see it paints a very different picture from the edited snippet included in the article. The article very rarely references this belief by both witnesses that the act was consensual.

4) The article clearly refers to the friends that the alleged victim was with that night at Potbelly’s, Monique Kessler and Marcus Jordan, but fails to mention that both Monique and Marcus confirmed that the accuser showed no signs of intoxication whatsoever. The article also peculiarly forgets to include the fact that Monique Kessler willingly stated that she believed the alleged victim left the bar willingly with Winston, and even saw a text message exchange between them, “I know for a fact that I saw a text message on her phone that said ‘Meet me outside,'”. 

5) The article paints Winston to be a major star and a media tour de force, which of course he is now, but fails to acknowledge the fact that Winston, while noted by intense recruitniks, was a virtual unknown to the rest of campus at the time of this incident. The only mention that the article makes of Winston’s nobody status at the time is to bury this in the middle of a passage about Potbelly’s: “A redshirt freshman quarterback, 6 feet 4 inches and 235 pounds, Mr. Winston had been a prize recruit, well-known in football circles but not yet a widely recognizable name.” The rest of the article refers to Winston as if he had always been a star on campus and that the mishandling of the case was driven by the desire to keep the best player on the football team safe. In reality, Jameis Winston meant nothing to FSU football at the time of this incident. In fact, at the time, many believed that Clint Tricket (now the starting QB for West Virginia) or Jacob Coker (the projected starter for Alabama next year) would be the starting quarterback in 2013 because Winston was devoting so much of his spring to baseball. What motivation would the police force have for covering up a case to protect a young athlete who could potentially be the third string QB on the football team and was an every other day player on the baseball team? This is a question that the article never brings to light.

6) The article fails to delve into the curious timing of the breaking of this case. It is true that the the case was not truly investigated for a full year after it occurred, which is clearly a major error. What this article does not explore is why the investigation was opened up again. Matt Baker, a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times obtained a leaked report of the incident on November 6, 2013. At this point, FSU had just come off of a major win against rival Miami. The team was 8-0, and with few challenging opponents left on the schedule, looked more than poised to make a national title run. Jameis Winston had also become the far and away favorite for the Heisman trophy. Why did Baker decide to request this information exactly at this point? Is it not reasonable to wonder if the motivation to do so lay in FSU and their star QB’s rise to the top? This is a question that is worth exploring, but of course this investigative piece chose to ignore it entirely.

 

Many will take this article to be law rather than certain facts arranged in a manner expresses the author’s opinion. Few will acknowledge that the New York Times could be at fault with parts of this article, they will only point to FSU being inadequate and Jameis Winston being evil. One thing is fore sure, the casual NYT reader will not take the time to read this statement that was released by FSU in response to the article.

In a time when the media fuels general consensus, a major outlet has once again keeled to the temptation to tell only the story that they believe will be the most sensational and noteworthy. The truth is that we will never truly know if Jameis Winston raped that girl that night. Having met Winston on several occasions, I truly do not believe he would be capable of such an act. He has been a kind and well mannered member of the FSU student body every time I have encountered him. But my opinion does not matter. Just like the opinion of the New York Times, driven by their desire to put forth a blockbuster story, does not. In this great country, the law is that You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty. It seems that the New York Times would prescribe to a different notion, Guilty Until Proven Innocent.

While I do see the benefit in bringing the mishandling of sexual assault cases to the forefront, there is no need to do so in a manner that aims to taint the legacy of an outstanding student, athlete, and member of the Florida State community such as Winston, who by all legal and technical means is an innocent man. It is also not fair to the alleged victim to bring this story back to the front pages. It will only bring both of them further scrutiny and unfair turmoil. The New York Times taking aim at FSU is understandable, but writing the article in a way that clearly seeks to bring the events of that night back into question is a move that could ruin two young adults lives. There is simply not enough evidence to make a conclusion on this case. That is never going to change. So why continue to stoke the fire at the expense of two young people? It is a despicable decision that is entirely indicative of the state of the media today. It should be clear to all of us by now that The New York Times will tell any story that will gain them readers, without taking as much as a moment to consider those who will be affected by its publishing. That, in my opinion, is shameful.

44 thoughts on “New York Times: You’re Guilty Until Proven Innocent

  1. It’s like you read my mind and wrote an article from my exact thoughts. Thank you for posting this, it’s time we all take a look at the motives behind our media sources.

  2. The New York Times has been losing readers for a few decades now. They blame that on the internet but in fact it’s that this type of “reporting” has become common. It use to be news was reported as if they were flies on the wall, reporting what was and YOU the reader makes a decision what that means. Now they report based on a political agenda so they tell you what they want it to mean and slant the facts to meet that view.

  3. The way he referred to the Travis Johnson case is shameful. He mentions it only in passing that he was acquitted, not that he was maliciously and falsely accused in the first place. It was a very suspect case that Meggs and Ruiz prosecuted in spite in the fact that “football rules all.” The only reason it was even mentioned in the article was to highlight that the university was alleged to have a a reporting issue in that case also, an allegation that is of questionable merit. (In that case, Johnson’s accuser initially didn’t want the police notified, and the athletic dept rep complied with her. Days later she changed her mind.)

    Then this article is indignant about the fact that Bowden tried to talk to the prosecutor about Johnson’s innocence, but not about the fact that Meggs and Ruiz prosecuted an innocent man. Bowden was right. Johnson was overwhelmingly shown to be innocent. Who wouldn’t try to keep an innocent man from being prosecuted? In the last paragraph of the Times article, in mentions a player being acquitted ten years ago, but tries to connect dots that football had some influence over that, which is a ridiculous assertion in a jury trial.

  4. Only when the suspect is an athlete does the New York Times break away from its persistent narrative that the criminal justice system is racially biased against blacks (especially when the victim is white), but there you have it. The worst part of the article isn’t that the author has basically convicted Winston before a trial – it’s what has taken him to his conclusion that is most disturbing. The dripping narrative throughout the entire piece is that Winston is guilty because he invoked his constitutional right to obtain legal representation. If only the police could have confronted him before he hired a lawyer! If only they had gotten his DNA (again, check the NYT editorials on their position on requiring suspects to provide DNA evidence to police – spoiler alert –they’re against it!)

    All reasonable discourse on the criminal justice system goes out the window when sports are involved. Athletes are seen as entitled, privileged villains and their accusers as poor, helpless victims. Have we learned nothing from the Duke scandal – to at least get all the facts before rendering judgment? Shame on the New York Times for abandoning its once principled position on criminal justice. And shame on those who are running with it, viewing the apparent errors of the police investigation as evidence – nay proof – of Winston’s guilt.

  5. If you’re truly mad that Jameis’ character is being besmirched, you should be saving more anger for the TPD who criminally neglected their duties to investigate rape accusations. They owed that to both the accuser and to Jameis Winston. Instead they both get no closure because we’ll never get a real investigation.

    • Criminally negligent? While the TPD certainly has handled other situations horribly, I fail to see how this complaint was not handled properly. What version of the girls 4 different stories is true? How do you continue an investigation when the complainant refuses to cooperate? What proof has ever been presented that a rape even occurred?

      Hey I am no fan of poor law enforcement but suggesting that in this case they were criminally negligent is not a logical or truthful assertion based on the many conflicting stories by the girl. The real point neglected over and over is Winston was never arrested or charged despite the complaint being reviewed twice by not only the TPD but the SA. By any standard of justice without charges or an arrest suggesting a crime has been committed is highly speculative and not credible especially being gone over twice by a criminal justice system that has never been lenient in charging FSU athletes with crime.

      Law enforcement can only charge and arrest someone if they honestly feel they have sufficient evidence. This complaint had more inconsistencies in the girls complaint than a pound of Swiss cheese has holes. The TPD did in fact do their due diligence and found the girls many different testimonies to not be credible. Seriously this whole case is more to do with the scorned and ashamed woman than anything.

  6. Thank you for posting this as its infuriating that a front page NYT article is so biased and incomplete. I would love to see Erica on a witness stand facing cross examination.

  7. great follow up article . If only the author of the NYT article would read it and try to respond to your article and rebuttals….i like it. !!

  8. What a great response-fair and accurate! Thanks for taking the time to write and post it- we can all take a lesson regarding closer scrutiny of our media. I, too am an alum, and believe in Jameis, and I hope he reads your response to know there is support of him, other than just his ability to pass for touchdowns.
    Linda

  9. Why is it that this author is so concerned with the suspect being “innocent until proven guilty” but does not afford the same luxury to the alleged victim? If we assume that the suspect is innocent then we are assuming that the victim is guilty of perjury, having lied about her rape. Therefore, the author is guilty of exactly the act of which the NYT article’s author is being accused, that is, assuming guilt of an otherwise innocent person “by all legal and technical means”. This article is a collection of “certain facts in a manner [that] expresses the author’s opinion” and is biased in its own way, and this author should check themselves and note that fact before criticizing another author of the same characteristic bias.

    • That may be one way to interpret the article, but rather than seeking maliciousness I would like to assume that the author is simply addressing an issue that is prevalent today when it comes to media such as the New York Times which should be maintained as a credible source going against their morals and presenting an article that doesn’t present facts, but rather frames them into a story to get better readership. I think the real problem is that the media has become sensationalized rather than reporting the facts of the case and allowing both sides to maintain their dignity and innocence. Personally, I also think that bringing Florida State into this and accusing them of mishandling the case is also wrong. We have no reason to believe Jameis is guilty and we have no reason to believe the victim is lying, but ultimately, one of those statements must be true. However, neither of those outcomes has to do with Florida State and their reputation has no need of being tarnished when they followed their protocol based on the facts of the case and lack of investigation at the time.

    • Who is the suspect and victim? Doesn’t there have to be an actual arrest and charge for an actual crime to have been committed?

      The only thing we actually know is that the complainant had sex with a couple of people from evidence collected with no substantial evidence supporting the complainants many different stories. Was the suspect 5’9″ and 240 lbs? Has there actually been any credible evidence proving a rape even occurred?

      • There does not need to be an arrest nor charge for an actual crime to have been committed. A crime was committed if a crime was committed. Whether or not the legal system has been able to arrest and charge someone would be irrelevant to whether or not it happened.

      • Clarifying if someone issues a possible criminal complaint and it is investigated by not only the TPD and SA and they find there is not compelling evidence to charge or arrest anyone does that mean a crime has still been committed? To suggest that a person should still be charged and arrested doesn’t sound like proper justice to me. That may have been proper procedure during the Salem Witch trials but I don’t thing that flies today.

      • God forbid the girl’s story has some inconsistencies when she’s being pressured by her family, peers, and law enforcement. God forbid she may have trouble remembering specific details like height when possibly entangled in a traumatic event. We can’t be sure what actually happened but I see no motivation for this girl to falsely accuse this man, when going public with rape tears your life apart. Too often schools and sports industries are too concerned for their own reputations that victims and suspects are neglected of closure or even a proper handling of their situation, and that is the real issue here.

    • Good Lord…this last writer is ignoring the constitutional right that “the ACCUSED is presumed innocent until proven guilty”. That is why Mr. Winston is presumed innocent. Do not ignore 220 plus years of constitutional law.

    • Sally,

      The problem with your opinion is you are only getting one side of the story from the complainant. When you state “I see no motivation for this girl to falsely accuse this man” are you remotely aware of the well known phrase “No greater wrath than a woman scorned”? The girl thought she had developed a possible relationship with Winston and then found out that he had a steady girlfriend. That is why she gave a false description of Winston right after the incident. When she found out there was no chance of a long term relationship out of shame and anger she changed what had been a repetitive consensual sexual relationship to a relationship with no future to cry rape. The reason much of this information has been withheld was due to Rape shield laws and is also the reason that a Civil suit is not going to happen. Just like the Prostitute in the Duke case the girls false claims will be readily viewed by all.
      No one is getting away with any crime here unless you consider falsely accusing someone a serious crime.
      The problem with this whole issue is the constant lies the girl has stated to investigators in an attempt to keep that Rape shield law valid so she does not have to face the music a Civil suit would bring. That is the Elephant in the room that is being ignored. That is why the IX issue has been brought up rather than the Civil suit that was promised months ago by her attorney. Do you honestly believe that any criminal justice system would go over this case twice with a fine tooth comb and not issue an arrest or charges if there was any proof that a sexual assault actually occurred? Obviously, you have little knowledge how the TPD and SA in Tallahassee have dealt with far lesser crimes with far more visible athletes at FSU than Winston was at the time. This is just a horrible attempt at a money grab… Nothing more, nothing less towards a “NOW” star athlete for a crime that never happened.

  10. Your link to the casher interview doesn’t work (it goes to that same screenshot). Also, do you have a link to the Meggs report?

    Thanks.

  11. From the above article: “It is true that the the case was not truly investigated for a full year after it occurred, which is clearly a major error. ”
    If that horrible assertion is true then why is the author of this piece here’s sole concern protecting Winston?

  12. I think the point is that the entire evidence including facts that do not support the NYT author’s theory should be presented so a reader can make their own conclusions. It’s not Winston’s fault the TPD apparently failed to investigate diligently and there is no way of knowing if this case would have been handled any differently if he was not a student athlete. It would be easy to paint a completely different picture if you omitted key facts and only presented Winston’s side of the story. Journalistic lynching at its finest

  13. If you search “media response to Duke Lacrosse rape” allegations there are parallels. Most of the media took the easy story line that privileged players were being protected and suggested they were guilty and that the University and anyone who didn’t rush to judgement was “rape loving scum”. I wonder how many reporters apologized when the players were cleared a year later?

  14. This is a fair, insightful and detail-oriented piece. The NYT article sounded a little too much like the National Enquirer! You did a fantastic job dissecting the tactics they used to further their agenda. I completely agree that we SHOULD read the NYT article as Noles, and I also agree with the points you raised in questioning it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    p.s. I’m glad this popular article led me to your blog! My fiancee and I are also FSU alums in our early 20s and just moved to SF 2 months ago. We’re (aspiring!) foodies and will have to check out some of the places featured in your other posts :)

  15. To a fellow FSU graduate,
    I agree that details were left out of the NYT article. But I don’t agree that the majority of your arguments are so valid either. Firstly, it certainly seemed to me that the article was more aimed at portraying the TPD’s and FSU’s handling of the case as being faulty than at Winston for being guilty. I agree that he was not painted in a light that exuded innocence, but I don’t think he was painted as guilty either. Rather that we don’t know whether or not he’s guilty (which I appreciate you saying explicitly), and that it’s likely that the reason that we don’t know is because it was not well investigated by police. It’s hard to argue that investigators could have done more without showing that they had cause to do so. I believe this is why the article provided details that supported the notion that Winston might in fact be guilty: to explain why police should have been investigating further. As to your idea that this article further hurts Winston and the woman: I agree that it doesn’t look good for Winston, but I don’t believe that’s the author’s fault so much as the investigators’. If the case had been more thorough, it’s likely that we would know whether or not he did commit this crime, and he would either be further damaged by the media for a good reason or the media would not have a story. As for the woman, if she was victimized, I agree that this still coming up in the media is not particularly useful in terms of her forgetting the event, but I also think it’s important to recognize the importance of support in these types of cases. To have a big magazine like the NYT appear to take your side (at least in terms of how the police handled the case) can be validating to a person who has been largely invalidated time and time again. Now to your specific examples by number:

    1) I did not feel that it was implied that the woman was roofied so much as getting drunk. I was also surprised that the toxicology report was not mentioned. Although, for the sake of argument (and possible relevance in the case), GHB may only be detectable for 6-24 hours after ingestion, depending on metabolism, amount, and other factors. If on the lower end of this spectrum, it’s possible that a drug such as GHB could have been used and been out of her system by the time she was tested. I don’t know that this was the case here (obviously), but I feel that this should be noted when discussing the implications of the toxicology report. Another point I’d like to bring up here, that I will reference again regarding further arguments you made, is the issue of traumatic stress’ effect on the memory. This is a very well documented phenomenon. When one experiences something highly traumatic, the memory has a few ways of confusing things: Because the capacities of your brain that you “need” during a traumatic event are more along the lines of the “fight, flight, or freeze” responses, the areas of your brain that account for things such as the passage of time, analytical thought, and “normal” memory creation are largely shut down. If you were, for example, running from a lion who was chasing you, it would be very unhelpful for you to look around and consider the colors of the trees you’re running by, the height of the grass, how long you had been running, whether you tripped on the rock before or after you jumped over a fence, etc. What your brain needs to focus on is getting out of danger. Therefore it is very common for a rape victim to feel like he/she was in a haze around this time- the brain is not functioning as it normally would and it is strangely difficult to remember which events happened when and what basic details of the event were. This applies to details surrounding the trauma (e.g. before and after the event) due to associations of those memories with the traumatic event. Secondly, the memory does not like to not remember, and tries to fill in the blanks for us. This is the case in dreams, when many neurons are firing off, giving us many flashes of thoughts, which our brain puts together in a time-ordered sequence in order for us to conceptualize what these memories were in a way that makes sense to us. You might also be able to relate to this with the example of a childhood story that you’ve been told pieces of and seen pictures of and feel like you remember, yet later when you recount the story to an older relative, you often find that there are many discrepancies between the story you “remember” and what actually took place. This is due to our trying to make sense of bits of stories in a time-ordered way that makes sense to us. During traumatic events, often only bits and pieces of the event are remembered (due to my last point), and so it is often that the victims of trauma “recall” parts of the event that never took place in order to try to make sense of unclear parts of the memory. This is also often to blame for inconsistencies in the stories of rape victims. Thirdly, the memory also has a special trick that I’m sure you remember from your undergrad psych 101 class called repression. If the amygdala determines that memories are too difficult emotionally to accept, the hippocampus will often not provide us with much of the memory in our consciousness so that we do not have to relive it. It is much more common for us to lose pieces of memories than the entire event, and so this is yet another difficulty associated with rape victims’ accounts of their stories. It should be noted that research has found that it is, despite common myths, highly rare that accounts of rape reported to police are fictional. It is often the details of these rapes that are skewed, however the crime and the emotional impact are not as likely to be affected due to the memory’s fourth trick (which is to account for flashbacks), of having the most intense part of the memory more ingrained than most other memories we will ever have. Once again, I have no way of knowing whether or not any of these struggles were present in this case, but I do feel that it’s important that we’re aware of them when discussing the possible intentionality of the woman in this case.

    2) -“The accuser, in the original police report, identified the victim as being between the heights of 5 foot 9 inches and 6 foot 2 inches. This is clearly indicative of a person of average stature. Jameis Winston is 6 foot 4 inches.” Firstly, whenever discussing something of an analytical nature (e.g. estimating someone’s height), because of the lion example I gave earlier, it is important that we realize that it is very likely that someone in a traumatized state would have very little analytical memory from this time. Secondly, the range she cited, 5’9” to 6’2” is obviously an estimate, not something she measured. I don’t know why it’s so unconceivable that even someone who is not traumatized might be 2+ inches off in his or her estimate of someone’s height. But, even if we were to accept this argument, we already know that they did have sex that night, so her estimate of his height seems rather irrelevant regardless.
    -The point you made about the text message may or may not be valid. I would again suggest one consider the issue of time-order in memories associated with trauma, however, it is also possible that the woman simply lied about this. Texts also get deleted and are sometimes not sent when we believe they are. What reason she would have for intentionally lying about a text that didn’t even necessarily suggest she was being victimized is something I’m curious about how you’re interpreting.
    -I don’t know that I’d characterize a statement to the media regarding her clients’ “side” of the story given all of the potential misinformation circulating around this woman as something intended to “fuel the media” for the value of the spotlight. It seems a bit more like an attempt to set the story straight for all of the people who pay attention to the media given so much potential misinformation about this woman and her case. I’m also not sure what you’re suggesting is contradictory in the statement given.

    3) Chris Casher was/is a friend and teammate of Winston’s, as was the other witness you’re describing. I’m not sure why you characterize the witnesses’ testimonies as their staunch beliefs, whereas you characterize the woman’s statements as claims. Why you imagine that Winston’s friends and teammates, interviewed much later after having been in contact with one another and counsel, are truthful and unbiased, whereas the woman’s account, given the night of and day after a highly traumatic event, is likely completely constructed, is beyond me.

    4) I agree that her friends believing that she was not intoxicated means something. Although I’m not sure I agree that it means what you are implying. Monique believing that the woman left the bar willingly does not mean much to me, but okay, let’s say she did leave the bar willingly. The woman never said that she was forced to leave the bar, just that she was forced to have sex. She very likely could have left the bar willingly but not had sex willingly. Also, she never said anything that would contradict this statement of Monique’s, so I’m not sure as to its relevance. Monique stating that, “I know for a fact” that the woman had a text on her phone that said “Meet me outside” also doesn’t mean much. Why you assume that Monique is telling the truth about the text and the woman is lying about the other text is once again over my head unless you know something the police haven’t told us about the phone’s text history with anyone but her friends. In this case, I’d be confused as to why the police were not able to identify Winston with this text’s phone number when they looked at her phone records to determine which texts she truly sent her friends when. But let’s say her friend knowing what she saw is more proof than a phone record (although it was enough to invalidate the woman’s story in your mind). How do we know it was from Winston, and how do we know she was planning on leaving with him in addition to going outside? And even if both of these are true, what does this have to do with your argument about Winston’s possible innocence? Once again, she never claimed she didn’t leave with him willingly; she said her memory was hazy and fragmented at this point (again, not at all uncommon in rape victims) and wasn’t sure how she ended up in the cab.

    5) I don’t know why his fame at the time of her accusation is relevant to your point. It’s not undisputed that the officer advised the woman and her attorney not to go forward due to Winston’s role on the team. If his status was enough of a factor for the officer to suggest this, it certainly would be enough of a factor for the department to be affected by. I don’t imagine that they tried to cover up the case, but it’s clear that they weren’t motivated to investigate it either, as evidenced by their multiple hesitancies and lack of thorough work.

    6) The timing of the breaking of the case was indeed relevant to Winston’s rise in fame. How does this suggest anything about his guilt or innocence? If anything, it is suggestive of Baker’s intention to have publicity brought to his writing, which is hardly newsworthy, which you recognize given your take on the NYT article as simply being used to create controversy to increase readership. If your implication is that this woman is the one that leaked the story to Baker due to her own motivation to hurt Winston during his rise to fame, then I suppose I can see where you might be coming from. If Winston did rape her, he wasn’t being charged with the rape, and everyone was talking about him like a hero, I wouldn’t blame her for wanting people to know about what he did. If he didn’t rape her, then she was perhaps just eager to harm his reputation further than her previous attempt at doing so when she filed charges the same night they had sex? This seems possible as well, but I don’t know that it makes any more sense than her intent if he had raped her. But all of this is assuming that she was the one who leaked it, and we don’t even know that.

    I also wanted to mention because of other commenters, although I appreciate that you didn’t bring it up, that the presence of another man’s semen on her clothing has nothing to do with whether or not Winston raped her. It is likely that she was not a virgin before meeting Winston. That hardly equates to her not being raped.

    Like you and the NYT’s writer, I don’t have any way of knowing what actually happened that night. Accordingly, I most certainly do not go around calling Winston evil or a rapist, because I don’t know that this is the case. I also don’t go around saying that the woman is lying, because I also don’t know that this is the case. But I do know that the investigators could have done more, and this is what I’m glad that the NYT’s article addressed. I’d imagine that if Winston did not rape her that he would have liked the police to have done a better job so that they could say without a doubt that he was innocent. It is due to the lack of thorough investigation that this is now hanging over both of their heads instead of just the guilty/lying party.

    I am surprised that after a fairly well-written piece (good enough that I felt compelled to respond in this much detail!), that you then said that because Winston seemed well-mannered on the occasions you saw him that you do not believe he would have raped someone. Putting Winston aside, you know better than that in terms of these issues.

    I agree that it is typically not ethical for the media to portray someone as “guilty until proven innocent.” However, it is important that when the police have someone report an incident to them that they take it seriously and investigate as if this were a true allegation. Afterwards, the court should not consider one guilty until proven so (likely by the police’s collected evidence). But if the police were to assume that those who are accused of rape are innocent, they would not conduct their investigations nearly as thoroughly. Let’s say you were cornered by a group of men from work and beaten. You go to the police, but they assume that you got your injuries another way and that you are making up the story about these men from work, because this has not been proven. No one would investigate the crime like they should. It would fall on you to prove that these men had done this, which is hardly the position a victim should be in. It is the responsibility of the police to assume that the accusations are quite possibly true, and to investigate accordingly so that they can provide any evidence they can gain to a court of law, who can then use that information to determine whether someone they would otherwise assume is innocent is either guilty or not.

    I hope you don’t dismiss this as simply adversarial or a jab at Winston/his reputation. I just wanted to point out that there are also points to be made about your points.

    Austin

    • Austin,

      I truly appreciate you taking so much interest in this article and taking the time to write such a thoughtful, articulate, and well mannered response. While I am greatly tempted to respond to each of your counter points with opinions of my own, I will not do so because I believe it would undermine the basis of my writing. What I think you have failed to realize is that my article is not meant to take Winston’s side. It is meant to express the fact that the NYT purposely omitted well known facts in order to tell a more sensational story. The six points I brought to light were in no means supposed to be a way of “proving Jameis’s innocence”. To the contrary, I made an effort to bring them to the forefront so that it would be realized how different the tone of the NYT article could have been had they expressed the facts that support the accused and not just those who favor the accuser. I am by no means rallying for an article that contains just pro-Winston points, as my article does. I am instead lobbying for the author to merge the points they have included in the existing article with the points I brought up (and many more that I chose to leave out) in order to create a well rounded and fair piece of journalism.

      As far as the point about my feelings about Winston upon having met him, I completely understand your sentiment. I have received quite a few responses to this article stating that this is completely irrelevant. I couldn’t agree more. I did not express this well enough in my writing, but what I was trying to state was that my biased opinion, being an FSU alumn and having thoroughly thought Jameis was a good person upon meeting him, is just as irrelevant as that of the NYT, who would clearly support whichever side would allow them to write a more sensational story. I am by no means crediting Jameis because I think he is a good person. It is the opposite. I am discrediting my opinion on the issue because I am clearly biased. I do not think it is a stretch to say that the author’s opinion is heavily influenced by a motivation to write a more sensational and noteworthy article, which makes for an opinion that is just as biased as mine. What I sought to communicate was that opinions do not matter on this issue. There is not enough evidence to find a guilty party in this case one way or another. So why does a major news outlet such as the NYT seek to dredge up the issue in such a way that does not only question the TPD and the school, but also paints a young African American man to be guilty of a crime that none of us will ever know if he committed? It is unnecessary. That is the entire point of my article and is one that I stand by despite the compelling points you have brought forth.

      • If I might add WInston has been declared innocent of the complaint after being reviewed twice by the criminal justice system. That seems quite convincing to me. The continued fact that Winston was never charged or arrested is compelling. Suggesting he could be guilty after being reviewed twice by the criminal justice system seems mean spirited and quite possibly inferring racist bigotry by those suggesting such a thing. JMO but knowing how diligent the TPD and SA of Tally have been historically towards FSU athletes suggesting a cover up or a poor investigation appears ludicrous.

  16. 1. The surveillance video. I agree it should have been reviewed. However, the testimony of her friends almost directly contradicts her story.
    2. Casher. If you read the report, you will see that the accuser herself stated that Casher was not in the cab nor was he at the apartment, nor did he match the description of the man she said allegedly tried to stop the alleged attack. They had no cause to interview him because the accuser said that he was not there. She also did not indicate that Casher was with the suspect or knew him.
    3. The BAC test. According to her friends, nurse, police, and blood alcohol test, and second story, she was not intoxicated at all.
    4. Drugs. See number 3. intoxication covers any form of impairment caused by assumption. Also, explain why 12:50 – 1:45 AM the gap between text messages when the alleged assault occurred, she was drunk, drugged, blacking out, being raped, in & out of consciousness but right at 1:45 AM emerges from her semi-coma state and is fully functional back to coherent texting? Also, she’s still with Winston when the texts between 1:45 – 2 AM were sent, after the alleged incident nothing but business as usual until for what ever reason she called the police at 3:30 AM…don’t take my word for it, go to the 86 pages.
    5. Two week delay. The article states that there was a two week delay in the identification of the suspect. What is not mentioned is the fact that the evidence was being sent to the FDLE lab during this time. Evidence is stored until the person wishes to pursue a case or names a suspect. The suspect was named and the evidence was sent to the lab. Send the evidence then contact the guy. They were getting the evidence sent to the lab which in Florida is not a quick process, they have to work with the system that they have. Once everything was confirmed as submitted, they contacted Winston who requested his attorney. And anyone who has dealt with cops in a situation like this knows that you had better not talk to cops without a lawyer as many people have been roped into false confessions. And as a young black man in Florida I’m sure he knew how police would deal with him with a white girl accusing him of rape. No one but God and Winston and the people who were there know what really happened. This is true with any case. When every piece of evidence points to innocence, innocence must be assumed.

    • Another thing that I meant to point out is that the State Attorney’s Office took the exact same steps that the cops took and achieved the exact same results. The only reason there were a few additional steps is because of new information that was previously unknown. I read the Tallahassee PD report and the SAO report. Almost the exact same information. Again, the only reason there was anything extra is because there was information that was unknown at the time. And the new information pointed to Winston’s INNOCENCE. There was no need to take DNA because he never denied having sex with the girl. Again, Casher was never interviewed because the accuser said that he was not in the cab or the apartment. The accuser also said that the man she thought was the roommate was dark skinned with dreads. Casher does not look anything like that. There was absolutely zero reason to connect him to this in ANY way. We say what should have been done based on what we know now. But at the time this information was unknown. The police gathered a ton of evidence and every piece of it pointed to Winston’s innocence. Her own friends almost completely contradict everything she told the police. At the time her 4 completely different testimonies was the only information they had to go on. Then they break off contact, so they cannot get any new details from her. The only step that could have been taken that SHOULD have been taken was the surveillance video. By the time Winston’s name was brought up the tape had been recycled. This missed step had nothing to do with them trying to protect anyone. Meggs and Georgia Caplemen are trying to smear everybody because they didn’t get their dream case. Meggs seems to have a fetish for prosecuting FSU athletes and he is mad that he missed out on a juicy case.

  17. http://blogs.denverpost.com/lewis/2007/12/13/cu-regent-has-no-shame/514/

    If anyone is interested in knowing more about the Sleaze bucket attorney Baine Kerr Jr.of Boulder, Co this is an interesting glimpse that sheds some light on his past tactics. Essentially, he is a leech who has made a living suing Universities for IX rape accusations his tactics are to conduct a media smear campaign to shame and coerce the University to settle. He has zero concern about truth or ethics its all about CASH. I believe he wants to get hush money basically but he certainly does not want Erica to face cross examination. If Jameis is truly innocent as we all hope and believe he should sue her for defamation and force a deposition. The best defense may be a good offense in this case.

  18. So funny how many people come out to scream and shout INNOCENT TIL PROVEN GUILTY for Jameis Winston, yet when the media convicted Joe Paterno of covering up Sandusky’s crimes 3 days after he was arrested, claiming Joe had to know….anyone who spoke out with the same cries on Joe’s behalf were called a pedophile defender and enabler!!!

    • You seem to be assuming that everybody on here thought that way. I always defended coach Paterno. I thought that he was being railroaded just because he was the head coach. He did what he was supposed to do, he reported it to the campus police and to his superiors. he was relying on second hand information that he had no clue was true or not. Was he supposed to fire someone based off of a rumor? People seem to equate defending Paterno with defending Sandusky. I agree with you. All evidence points to Winston’s innocence, he is being railroaded for this crab leg thing. As usual, ESPN is doesn’t know the whole story. Just like they railroaded Paterno.

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