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Jameis Winston: Guilty until proven innocent
NORTH CAROLINA-(BASN)-After the scandal involving booster Nevin Shapiro placed the University of Miami on probation, former University of Florida star Aaron Hernandez was arrested for first-degree murder, Miami Dolphins’ Richie Incognito alleged locker room bullying, and Chad Johnson’s embarrassing public arrest for domestic violence became a fixture on the nightly news, the state of Florida is back in the media once again.
Yes, the “Sunshine State, “which recent allowed a “cold-blooded” killer named George Zimmerman to walk free after shooting and killing an unarmed seventeen year old kid named Traveyon Martin, it finds itself back in the news.
This time, however, the case captivating the country involves a high profile Black athlete, who has been accused of raping a white female.
For this reason, many people in Florida fear that the “old Southern Justice” will rise again from the Confederate graves and slam-down the gavel of injustice and convict the young nineteen year old Heisman front runner from Hueytown, Alabama named Jameis Winston without proof of evidence, as if it was an ugly scene from the classic film “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
Winston, who is still the starting QB for the Seminoles, fortunately for Florida State Alumni, has not been arrested or charged with a crime yet, even though he has been accused of sexual assault.
In effect, William Meggs, the state attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit, who reopened the case and assigned two investigators, according to the USA Today, acknowledged the 11-month lag complicates matters as well as the Tallahassee Police Department’s alleged mishandling of the evidence in the case.
As a result, Meggs said after successfully completing an interview process with the accuser, who originally identified her assailant, between 5 feet 9 and 5 feet 11, which is oddly about 5 inches shorter than Winston, who stands at 6’4 and 245 pounds, he would be ready to make a decision whether or not to press charges against the red-shirt freshman within the coming week.
Despite not been arrested, however, many college football fans feel that Winston is in a Catch-22, where if he is proven to be not guilty of the crime, the world will still be convinced that his innocence is only a result of him being a quarterback at FSU, while his face will forever be association with rape as his accuser’s face remain hidden.
In other words, he will walk in the same light as Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who faced similar allegations in Georgia from a 20-year-old college student in March 2010, who accused him of sexually assaulting her after a night of drinking at a bar.
And, even though, the Steelers t Super Bowl-winning quarterback, seemingly walked away free with no jail-time, and was suspended only six games, which he was allowed to come back two games early for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, he is still considered to be a rapist by a large segment of the sports world.
For this reason alone, this high profile sexual assault case was similar to the one charged against the Los Angeles Lakers Kobe “BEAN” Bryant, which occurred in the summer of 2003, where a 19-year-old, Caucasian hotel employee in Eagle, Colo. accused him of raping her.
Not surprisingly, in September 2004, the charges against Bryant were also dismissed, and his accuser filed a civil suit, which the two sides ultimately settled.
With this case fresh in the minds of many, some wonder if this current case against Jameis Winston, who literally, was a nobody last year, when this alleged incident occurred between the hours of 1:30 and 2 a.m. on December 7, 2012, gained newfound interest as his career catapulted him to celebrity status as a result of him possibly leading the Seminoles to an undefeated season, an ACC Conference Championship, BSC National Championship, and him hoisting the Heisman Trophy over his head at the end of January.
With all of these possibilities, a few cynical Seminole fans, according to several online posts, view this sexual assault, due to the odd timing, to be a “possible” shakedown for cash even though the victim’s family said that their daughter identified Winston as her alleged assailant in early January.
Thoughts like these, according to several reports, however, left the alleged victim, who, is also a student at Florida State to fear for her safety after the police informed her that the information concerning the case was about to be released to the media.
“When the attorney (Patricia Carroll) contacted Detective (Scott) Angulo immediately after Winston was identified, Detective Angulo told the attorney 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 family said.
Despite the harshness of alleged words spoken by Detective Angulo, many folks aren’t surprised by his comments, especially with the historic protection of the Football-Rape Culture in America, which we saw played out just recently in Steubenville, Ohio, on the night of August 11, 2012, when a high school girl, incapacitated by alcohol, was publicly and repeatedly sexually assaulted by two high school football players, Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, both 16 at the time of the crime, who were both convicted in juvenile court for the rape of a minor.
In Winston’s defense, however, there have been several high-profile cases, where females, who claimed to have been raped, were later discovered to be lying.
Tawanda Brawley and Crystal Mangum
To freshen your memory, there was racially charged 1987 sexual assault case involving then 15 year-old Tawanda Brawley, who was found in a trash bag, dazed, smeared with feces with the word n****r scrawled on her body, that claimed she was raped by a gang of white men in New York City, one of which was a police officer.
Sadly, despite, celebrity involvement, which included, according to the Daily Mail, comedian Bill Cosby posting a $25,000 reward for information on the case, boxing promoter Don King promising Brawley $100,000 for future education and $30,000 watch given by boxer Mike Tyson, who also was convicted for raping Miss Black Rhode Island Desiree Washington and served three years in prison himself from 1992-95, even though he claims his innocence, the story turned out to be an elaborate hoax conjured up by the alleged victim.
This case, in fact, received so much attention; it placed “jack-leg” preacher, now MSNBC HOST and former presidential candidate Reverend Al Sharpton into the national spotlight.
Even stranger than the Tawanda Brawley case, was the Duke Lacrosse Case, where in 2006, Crystal Mangum, who is Black, falsely accused three white Duke University lacrosse players of raping her.
Due to the racial element involved in the case, it ignited several heated debates, which left the city of Durham divided along racial lines
Oddly, however, it was later discovered that the accuser, like Brawley, that Mangum was also lying.
Brian Banks and false allegations
Along with these two disturbing cases, there was also the sad case against former prep football star 6-foot-4, 225 pound Brian Banks, who had a scholarship to the University of Southern California, along with other offers from the Michigan State University and University of Kansas, was falsely accused of raping Wanetta Gibson in 2002 at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, which after being encouraged by his attorneys to take a plea of no contest instead of going to trial before a jury and risking 41 years in prison, ended up serving to six years in prison.
Shockingly, on Feb. 28, 2011, Banks’ story took a dramatic turn, when Gibson, his accuser, requested his friendship on Facebook.
He did not accept it, but instead asked her if she would meet with him and a private investigator.
And, in doing so, confessed that she hadn’t been raped by Banks in 2002.
With all of these allegations turning out to be false, many feel that the case against Winston is the same yet different.
Therefore, he is innocent until proven guilty as well.
Even though reporters, who have been covering the case, continue to ask, seemingly, simple questions to the Tallahassee Police Department, who have allegedly tried to cover-up the alleged incident in order to save the Seminole football program like:
• “Why was Winston not listed as the suspect in the police report when he was identified in early January?”
• “Why didn’t Detective Angulo or his superiors inform the state attorney of the crime before the media sought a copy of the police report 11 months after the crime?”
. Why did the police allegedly place the sexually assault case on inactive status back in February after “allegedly” assuming that the alleged victim did not wish to prosecute the case?
Despite all these questions lingering along with the allegation hovering over Winston’s head, he still has been able to maintain his composure by completing 19 of 31 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns during a predictable 37-7 beat down of the Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Eric D.Graham, a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, where he received a B.A. in Mass Communication with a concentration in Radio and Television, with a minor in History, with an emphasis in African-American Studies, is currently the Editor and Chief of Black Athlete Sports Network, where his articles appear daily along with his controversial cartoon character Bobbee Bee “The Hater.” Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org