Still Waiting

For those of us who live in Tallahassee, or who are fans of FSU, the last two weeks have been rather interesting to say the least.  Not because the ‘Noles continue to dominate on the football field, but for another reason altogether.

It has been right at two weeks since the crack media outlet TMZ “broke” a story involving star QB Jameis Winston and his potential involvement in a sexual assault or sexual battery (I distinguished these for a reason).

As of today, and according to reports just this morning, it might be another two weeks before State Attorney Willie Meggs announces whether or not there will be charges filed against Winston.  In other words, the holding pattern will remain in place, and that means that additional rumors and leaks are bound to come to the surface.

I have been talking with co-workers since this story broke, and the consensus seems to be that we are going to withhold judgment for right now.  If anything, that should be the track that everyone takes, but that is rarely the case.  Take, for example, the recent cases involving Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman.  In both instances, the media decided that they were guilty as charged, but the jury that decided the case for each came to a different conclusion.  I don’t use them as an example in order to give them a ringing endorsement, but just to offer perspective; you can bet that I won’t be asking Casey Anthony to watch my daughter anytime soon and I won’t be hopping in the car with George Zimmerman, either.  In this current situation with Jameis Winston, too many people have rushed to judgment and convicted him already.

Above, I made note how I separated the terms “sexual assault” and “sexual battery,” and there is a good reason for my doing so.  The legal definition for each follows:

Assault (source):

an intentional act by one person that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.

Battery (source):

an intentional unpermitted act causing harmful or offensive contact with the “person” of another.

Why do those definitions matter?  I guess the most important reason they matter is because the terms “assault” and “battery” are not interchangeable; they have specific legal meanings.  For people to use them as replacements for each other is disingenuous at best.  With respect to the current Jameis Winston investigation, the initial report was the he was being investigated for sexual assault, meaning that he could have made a comment toward someone referring to some sort of sexual act he wanted to perform with her.  I don’t mean to dismiss that as nothing, but it is a far cry from what is being reported now, and that is that it is a sexual battery investigation.  To expand even further, even if he crossed the line from words to actions, that still does not mean that he raped the woman who is accusing him; a sexual battery can be something like him grabbing her backside.

With regards to Jameis Winston, I believe that he, like everyone, has the right to be treated as innocent until such time that he is proven guilty.  Right now, he has not even been charged with a crime, so I will continue to lend my support to him.  If there comes a time when he is charged, and he makes his way through the legal system and were to be convicted, I believe he should be punished appropriately.  My position on this has less to do with my support of him as a Seminole than it does with my support of him to being entitled to be treated as an innocent person until such time a jury decides otherwise.  I am a firm believer in the legal process.

Lest I be accused of forgetting the accuser in this piece, I can assure you that I have not.  She has rights in this case, and any attempt to abridge said rights is plain wrong.