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Courts / Law

Dueling Claims in FSU QB Sexual Assault Case

Streeter Lecka
Getty Images for the NY Times

The sexual assault case involving Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has devolved into a series of conflicting claims, first with a statement Wednesday from the alleged victim's family strongly criticizing how Tallahassee police have handled the investigation.

Then, following a report from ESPN that Winston's DNA matched that of a sample found in the accuser's underwear, Winston's attorney held a news conference today, saying that the sexual contact between Winston and the victim was consensual.

In the statement issued to the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday, Patricia Carroll, attorney for the accuser's family, said she was warned by police that Tallahassee was 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."

The statement also said the woman-who is from the Tampa Bay area-"cannot fathom" why local prosecutors were not told about the investigation involving Winston until last week.

Several city officials-including the interim police chief-held a hastily arranged press conference on Wednesday evening but they refused to respond to the specific allegations made against city police.

Tom Coe, the interim police chief, contended that the case was put on hold last February when the accuser "broke off contact" and Carroll "indicated" that the woman "did not want to move forward at that time."

Coe, without addressing any specifics, said statements are being made about the case and "some are not factual."

"We fully understand there is immense interest in this nationwide case," Coe said. "...My role as police chief is to protect the rights of everyone involved, the integrity of this investigation and to make sure it's conducted fairly and impartially and we try to get the truth in this case."

ESPN then reported that a Florida Department of Law Enforcement DNA analysis found that a sample of DNA provided by Winston matched the sample taken from the accuser's underwear. 

That result-and the release of the report to ESPN-were the main topics of a news conference held today by Tim Jansen, an attorney representing Winston. The Tallahassee Democrat reports Jansen says the sex between Winston and victim was "absolutely" consensual.

Jansen added that he anticipated his client's DNA would match the DNA found on the complainant. “We are not surprised with the results of the DNA," he said. "We voluntarily submitted to a DNA, the only thing we are surprised by is it was leaked out by law enforcement,” he said. “The question the people should ask is why is it being leaked? For what purpose?” Jansen held the news conference in response to a report on ESPN.com that DNA taken from the complainant matched Winston's DNA. Winston submitted to a DNA swab a week ago on campus. “I don’t think it’s a secret what the defense is when I tell you that we are not surprised his DNA was found. We anticipated it would be found. We never, ever said he wasn’t there."

Winston was a top freshman recruit and backup quarterback at the time of the alleged December 2012 assault, but is now a Heisman Trophy candidate and the Seminoles are the second-ranked football team in the country.

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