I’m a girl. I’m a sports reporter. I’m a human rights activist. I founded a company that aims to ensure dialogue about sexual consent without taboo not too long before the Jameis Winston hearing. My team and myself are trying to end rape culture. The Winston situation has completely challenged me. I like to keep my worlds separate. I don’t like when they mesh. Not one bit. I don’t like when my sports remove themselves from their box and enter into my most sensitive box.
I don’t know if Jameis Winston is a rapist. I don’t know if he was ever educated on sexual consent. I don’t know if he comes from a school system where they tell students sex is wrong and nothing more. We live in a society where a victim can believe she or he was sexually assaulted while the person that assaulted them has no idea that they violated someone. It sucks that sex is limited in our culture. It’s brutal there aren’t rules of consent. For sexual assault victims, there aren’t words to describe how much the limited conversation about rape, sex and sexual consent sucks.
I’m not going to say Winston is a rapist but I’m not going to say he’s not. The deep moral judgement that people in my profession are SUPPOSED to have refuse to allow me to take the benefit of the doubt on this one. I know that thanks to the fine work by the Tallahassee Police Department, Florida State University and a broken justice system, reporters, fans, and NFL teams will welcome Winston into the NFL without ever knowing the truth.
As journalists, we seek to find truth. I have deeply read into the Winston situation. I cannot even begin to analyze what is true and what is a complete lie. It’s not there. There is evidence, but there isn’t proof. There doesn’t seem to be any objectivity. It’s pure he said/she said. As a human, I read this woman’s statement, the alleged victim, and I hate that she has been attacked by outside individuals. I believe she believes she was raped. Yet, I believe Winston’s statement too. However, everything else about Winston makes me question him. Pairing that with the police investigation gone horribly and unjustifiably wrong, this is not a situation I can report on.
There are things I know are true. I know Winston’s lawyer tweeted the name of his alleged victim. She had to drop out of university because of this ordeal. She has received death threats. Even if she was falsely accusing Winston of rape, I would hope both Winston and his legal team would recognize this type of mental illness and refuse to adjust their morals in order to justify her attack. This action shows the lawyer is attempting to destroy the creditability of the witness rather than prove his client’s innocence. However, I also know it isn’t Winston’s lawyer’s job (I’m not naming him because I don’t want to discredit him) to make Winston a better person. It’s not his job to educate him in the places where society failed. But, it’s not his job to gather the evidence and put it in a plastic bag and discard it like Kim Kardashian’s dad allegedly did during the OJ Simpson trial.
Winston was never arrested or charged after investigations by Tallahassee police and the State Attorney’s Office. The police botched the report. I would hope they wouldn’t arrest someone without a solid case, whether it be the poorest person in the state or an NFL draft pick.
Winston has denied any criminal wrongdoing through his attorneys. He went on the attack, a very harsh attack, refusing to show any basic human emotions. He’s not sitting beside his wife in a press conference, in a state of shame, hurt, wrongdoing and emotion like Kobe Bryant did. Winston’s not realizing anything. His most publicized comment was that the only thing has horrible as rape is falsely accusing someone of rape. That right there that says this kid must be either innocent or awful. He’s 100% right in this statement if he did not actually rape this woman. But if he did, he deserves extremely severe mental help. I would hope the NFL does some sort of medical evaluation before he’s allowed to go onto the field and physically interact with other NFL players.
I know that the media convicted this woman. She was attacked, just like many other women in the same position as her have been. Other rape victims will look at this case as an example. There wasn’t a focus on what was and is true. This wasn’t a fair case. There is no justice.
The facts of this case weren’t really reported so I’d like to take this opportunity to point out the facts, just so journalism can live another day:
1. Winston hadn’t played football at Florida State at the time of the alleged incident.
2. Winston, like all NCAA players, does not receive payment for his services.
3. The woman did not know his name at the time that the alleged sexual act occurred. She learned it during role call in a class both her and Winston were both registered in.
4. The woman filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which then launched a federal investigation into whether Florida State’s handling of the case violated Title IX, the gender-equity law that prohibits sexual discrimination.
5. Winston presented himself as a victim of false accusations and a broader campaign to vilify him.
6. A case like Winston’s, would typically be heard by panels of faculty and students. This case was not.
7. The ruling was from an independent hearing officer, brought in for this case. At one point he said, “I’m learning this along with you.”
8. According to reports by ESPN, the toxicology reports show the accuser had “minuscule amounts of alcohol in her system.” There was no evidence of any date-rape drugs (Not that this factor even ties into the basis of the case).