On April 16 a scathing piece appeared in the New York Times about the failures of the Jameis Winston rape investigation. Winston is the red shirt quarterback of Florida State University who won the Heisman Trophy and lead his team to the national championship. To protect their valuable athlete and the money he brought in the school and the surrounding area Tallahassee police halfheartedly investigated an accusation by a woman in December 2012 that Winston raped her. The New York Times piece details all the flaws in the investigation but what concerns me most is the school’s handling of the matter. From what the little evidence gathered it is clear Winston acted inappropriately and would benefit from some counseling and early intervention but no one is providing any nor recommending he get it. With the rash of pro football players getting into serious trouble these days, players that had trouble in college, you have to wonder if early intervention might have helped some of these players. Should Winston get into trouble down the line, should we blame the school for ignoring the early warning signs?
The Times article goes into depth about the mistakes made early in the investigation. The most glaring mistake may have been not getting a copy of a video of the incident taken on another student’s phone which would have shown what occurred. After reading the article one thing became clear to me, whether or not gathering evidence properly would have resulted in Winston’s arrest there is enough here to be troubled by Winston’s behavior. Winston meet the woman in a bar where they had both been drinking though neither was 21, took her to his dorm where she claims she blacked out and awoke to find Winston on top of her & when she tried to resist he pinned her arms back. After he finished he helped her dress and took her on a scooter to a street near her dorm and dropped her off. Now this is the victims account and the details of the incident may have been different but there is enough here to find Winston’s behavior troubling. Winston never denied having intercourse with the woman but claimed it was consensual, how consensual can things be with a woman who has consumed five mixed drinks? Regardless of the details of the incident it seems Winston overpowered this woman and thought it was okay to have intercourse with a woman who was very drunk. Shouldn’t this be a sign that he needs counseling before he does something worse?
The Chief Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman was quoted as a saying “I believe that Mr. Winston cannot be convicted. I don’t necessarily believe that he’s innocent.” While that seems to be an excuse for not investigating properly the least she could have done especially if she believed Winston had acted inappropriately was order him into counseling. However since Winston is a prize athlete who brings millions of dollars no one including law enforcement has taken any action.
In recent years the NFL has had a rash of players getting in trouble with the law. One of the worst cases occurred last season with Aaron Hernandez. Hernandez, a former tight end for the New England Patriots was accused of murdering Odin Lloyd and is currently in jail awaiting trial. Hernandez is accused of killing Lloyd to cover up Lloyd’s knowledge of Hernandez’s involvement in a double homicide in Boston in 2011. This is hardly Hernandez’s first run in with the law. During his three years at the University of Florida Hernandez had some scrapes with the law including a bar fight in 2007 where he disputed his bill with the bartender; when the bartender walked away Hernandez punched him in the head. For this Hernandez received deferred prosecution so he could continue to play football. Shouldn’t this incident have been a clear indicator that Aaron needed some anger management therapy, but none was ordered and Hernandez’s troubles continued and now he stands accused of murder.
I am not saying that Winston will commit murder. However, his behavior in the sexual assault incident should be an indication that he would benefit from help. Worse yet since there were no consequences for his behavior this time he believes he got away with it and may do something more extreme next time. Of course there are no guarantees and this could have just been a college kid behaving badly. However with the NFL concerned about the behavior of some of it players wouldn’t it be to the leagues benefit to work with colleges to arrange an early intervention program for players who get into trouble? If the Winston investigation shows us nothing else it shows us that it is time to stop letting athletes get away with bad behavior and at the very least get them some help before their behavior escalates.