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Lawyer asks Florida to look anew at Winston case

– A lawyer for the woman who accused Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault asked Friday for Florida’s attorney general to independently examine the rape investigation, claiming it was riddled with problems.

Attorney Patricia Carroll called on the attorney general to investigate the Tallahassee Police Department’s handling of the case, saying that detectives failed to interview key witnesses, used unreliable and incomplete forensic tests and never tested the alleged victim’s blood for the presence of date-rape drugs.

“It appears to me to be a complete failure of an investigation of a rape case,” Carroll said during the 90-minute news conference.

Spokeswoman Jenn Meale said the Attorney General’s Office hadn’t yet received a formal request from Carroll.

In response to Carroll’s criticisms, Leon County State Attorney Willie Meggs on Friday defended his office’s decision to not charge Winston, but he also acknowledged “shortcomings” with the case. He said there are still questions about what happened.

Meggs at one point during the investigation had remarked that there was “evidence of a sexual assault” although he later clarified that to mean statements from the victim as well as physical evidence such as Winston’s DNA being found in the underwear of the accuser.

Meggs said the decision to not charge Winston was based on the question of whether enough evidence existed to prove a rape charge – and his investigators concluded there was not.

Last week, he said there were too many gaps in the accuser’s story.

Meggs said Friday that he was not opposed to someone else investigating because he doubts they will reach a different conclusion.

Appearing with four other Heisman finalists at a news conference Friday in New York, Winston told reporters he knew he would be vindicated and added, “I knew I did nothing wrong.”

Carroll said the Heisman had nothing to do with her client’s accusations.

“I’m not focusing on football,” she said. “Sometimes it’s not about football. Sometimes it’s about rape.”

Winston’s attorney said any sex between his client and the accuser was consensual.

Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case.

According to Jackie Schultz, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott, “the state attorney’s office and FDLE did a thorough investigation of this case and they concluded that no further action on this matter is required.”