What we don't know about the Jameis Winston investigation

Mike Ehrmann

We'd like to know Florida State's star quarterback had nothing to do with any alleged crime. We'd like to know anyone who might've committed that alleged crime will be caught. We don't know much of anything right now.

You've got a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. You have most of the edge pieces put together, but that's it. Also, you have no idea what the finished puzzle looks like, and a good 800 pieces of the puzzle are missing. You're not sure if they even exist.

The Jameis Winston situation is not just going to go away. Florida State partisans would love it to go away, as would most college football fans. We're talking about the nation's best quarterback on one of the nation's two best teams, after all, and one who had captivated the sport with both his play on the field and his geniality off it. You want guys like that to succeed. They make college football look good.

And then the reports came out about Winston being investigated last year for an alleged sexual assault, and... what? What is there to say? Seriously, what can you say? At the end of the day, all we've got is the police report (via Tomahawk Nation), what the school and Winston's attorney have confirmed about the situation, and what Florida State's actions before and after the news suggest. That doesn't add up to much concrete knowledge.

The biggest issue here isn't whether Florida State's team is going to be distracted.

Oh, and we've got loads and loads of questions.

First things first: sexual assault is a very serious crime. That gets lost in a lot of the discussions about this situation, and to an extent, we get it. In a specialized media, you talk about what you know and what the audience expects. But at the same time, the biggest issue here isn't whether Florida State's team is going to be distracted (spoiler: they're just going to put their heads down and focus on football), it's whether someone was sexually assaulted. And we don't know if someone was, and if so by whom.

We do know that there was an allegation of sexual assault in 2012. We know that the alleged victim had been drinking, the alleged incident happened around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. December 7th, and police were notified (not through 911) at 4:43 in the morning. We don't know whether that involved the police going to the apartment in which the alleged incident occurred or if the alleged victim went to them.

We do know the police report is heavily redacted, owing to privacy laws surrounding complaints of sexual assault. So we don't know if the alleged victim knew who the alleged assailant was. We don't know anything about how the alleged incident went down. We don't know if the alleged victim knew the alleged assailant or knew Jameis Winston. We don't know whose apartment it was in which the alleged incident took place. We don't know whether Jameis Winston was there or not.

This isn't a demand to know; it's just to point out how many extremely pertinent details are missing from the public awareness of this alleged incident. There's a lot of white space between the slightly obscured lines at the bottom of the Person 2 info box and the top of the reporting officer box on the second page, in addition to the blacked-out lines on the first page. Presumably there are a lot of answers — if not the biggest one — concealed beneath those white and black spaces.

We do know Winston was investigated back in December but wasn't questioned at the time or charged with a crime. We don't know why not. We also know that the case is open, but we don't know why.

We do know Winston's attorney says he provided two witnesses' affidavits to police and that they're in the process of being interviewed. We do know Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen, is confident his client will receive a favorable decision. We also know attorneys virtually always say that, even when their clients' guilt is within even a shred of doubt. That's not to say Jansen's wrong. We don't know either way.

We don't know how the investigation has progressed with Winston. ESPN sources say he is "exercis[ing] his right not to speak to Tallahassee police" (which is to say, not talking), and while Jansen said the police hadn't spoken to Winston, we don't know whether that's by their choice. We also don't know where the description of the alleged assailant as 5'9 to 5'11 and 240 pounds came from. We don't know if that incongruity to Winston's size and build at the time is evidence that Winston was not involved in any alleged incident.

We do know that the vast majority of sexual assaults do not result in conviction, and most do not result in charges even being filed. It is a crime, but one that rarely leaves definitive evidence — and often the prosecution process dehumanizes the alleged victim as much if not more than the incident itself. So many times the victim of a sexual assault will choose not to cooperate or press charges.

We don't know if any of that information is applicable to this specific situation, however. If it's not, then Jameis Winston's life will have been made worse by someone else's alleged crime. We don't know.

That's the 1,000-piece puzzle. Now tell us whether Jameis Winston is at the center of it. You can't.

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