The Florida State Conundrum

The big story from Thursday was the revelation that the DNA of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston matched the DNA of the woman who has accused him of sexual battery:

 A DNA analysis completed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Tuesday confirmed that DNA provided by Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston matched the sample taken from the underwear of the woman who has accused him of sexual battery.

According to the DNA analysis report, a copy of which was viewed by ESPN.com on Wednesday, the Florida state crime lab determined the chance of the DNA in the woman’s underwear being a match for someone other than Winston was one in 2.2 trillion.

Of course it matched, said Winston’s attorney:

Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, said Thursday that he is not surprised that his client’s DNA is a match, answering “absolutely” when asked whether the quarterback had consensual sex with the woman.

“We are not surprised with the results of the DNA,” he said, according to USA Today. “We voluntarily submitted to a DNA. The only thing we are surprised by is it was leaked out by law enforcement. The question the people should ask is, why is it being leaked? For what purpose?”

Gee whiz, what a mess.

As is the case many times when a sensational case is spoon fed to us by the media, a conundrum arrives.  In this case, it’s pretty obvious.

On one hand, you have a woman who claims to have been assaulted and who supposedly visited a local hospital and had injuries documented.

On the other, you have the quarterback of a high-profile team (though he wasn’t quite a star at the time of the alleged incident) being accused very publicly of a horrible crime.

And wouldn’t you know it, this high-profile team happens to being in the thick of the national title race and the quarterback is a legitimate contender for the Heisman trophy award.  If Winston is arrested as a suspect in this alleged crime, surely FSU coach Jimbo Fisher would suspend him and the length of the suspension could have a profound effect on the team’s title chances.  Though unlikely, Fisher could also suspend Winston pending completion of the investigation.  It would be a bold move, but one that in the long run would build immense credibility for Fisher.

Or Fisher could do nothing, let the legal system run it’s course – possibly win a national championship in the mean time, and then Winston could possibly found guilty by the system.  In that case, Fisher would lose all sorts of credibility.

And then there’s this:

A statement released earlier Wednesday by the accuser’s family through her attorney, Patricia Carroll of Tampa, said Tallahassee police warned the accuser not to pursue the case, saying Det. Scott Angulo told Carroll, “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.”

If Fisher, members of his staff, or representatives of the school caused this investigation to “go away,” heads could roll and careers could be finished.

Or, again, this could all be a ruse concocted by the woman in the agony of regret.  As football fans, we just don’t know.  And that leaves us in an uncomfortable, suspended state.  We just want the truth.  If Winston is guilty, we want justice for the crime against this young woman.  And we want it quickly, before the season is unfairly tainted.  But we don’t want to ruin the life of a young man if he has been falsely accused.

What a conundrum.

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