Nov 18, 2013 07:58 PM EST
Jamies Winston Sexual Battery Investigation: Did the Police Revive the Case Because Media Began Asking Questions? (UPDATE)
The reporter who first requested information on the Tallahassee Police Department's (TPD) sexual battery investigation tied to Jameis Winston has finally told his side of the story, shedding light onto why he may have been implicated in the first place.
Speaking to Deadspin.com, the Tampa Bay Times' Matt Baker said he was given a tip on Nov. 6 to look into a sexual battery investigation tied to Florida State University. A sports reporter who does not even cover the Seminoles football team, Baker took the tip nonetheless.
Baker then contacted the Florida State police, who directed the reporter to the TPD. They did not get back to him at all over the weekend, nor did they Monday or Tuesday. Baker provided copies of emails that support his claims. Wednesday, the TPD finally did return his call, but TMZ had gotten picked up the scent and beat him to reporting it.
TMZ did not return a request from Deadspin for comment on how they obtained the information. The police released the redacted incident report, but did not implicate Winston in any way. TMZ reported their "law enforcement source" told them Winston is the suspect and police had interviewed him, a detail Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen, denies.
The tipster, a trusted source of Baker's, said a woman had filed a sexual abuse complaint and urged the reported to look into it. Baker did his due diligence and followed through on the tip.
"I cover sports," Baker told Deadspin. "I wouldn't have pursued it if it was just Joe College Student from Florida State."
The Tampa Bay Times does not have a regular Florida State football beat writer, but Baker has covered the team from time to time. Still, he emphasized to Deadspin: "My source has no axe to grind against Florida State. And neither do I."
Several other news outlets credited TMZ for breaking the story, but public records show the police began investigating the case again after Baker's request for information. Wednesday, Nov. 13, the TPD released a heavily redacted version of the police report and details of the investigation began rolling out.
The alleged victim filed her complaint in Dec. 2011, but the incident occurred in Oct. that year. ESPN cited sources who said the alleged victim named Winston as her attacker, but she did so nearly a month after filing her complaint with campus police.
The incident occurred in an off-campus apartment, so the case was turned over to the TPD, but it still unclear why police were not investigating the case for 11 months. Jansen said he was alerted of the police report in Feb. 2013, but though the case had been closed.
In sexual assault cases, it is not uncommon for victim's to come forward with information they did not previously give, or for new evidence to come forward. The case was turned over to the office of the Second Judicial Circuit Court state attorney, William Meggs, Wednesday.
At that point, Meggs said this was the first time he heard of the case and he speculated the police could have become active once again due to media interest.
"Our office would have been informed about this as soon as it occurred," Meggs told CBS Sports. "We first learned about it at 10:02 a.m. on Wednesday... I don't know if that's alarming, but it's a fact in the case. We can't question motives. What the police department has done is clammed up."
Now, with more information coming out as new the situation develops, Meggs' office must decide what Winston's role in the matter was. So far, Jansen said the police have not interviewed Winston and Meggs said his investigators have not done so either.
Meggs said he hopes to speak to Winston, but does not expect the Seminoles quarterback to submit to questioning. The alleged victim is now out of Fla. and Meggs is also attempting to get in contact with her.
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