The American justice system is supposed to work where one is innocent until proven guilty. However, that is rarely the case. Rape is a crime that makes people feel horrible about themselves. Victims frequently blame the problem on themselves and fear that they will be judged by the community. That is why the victim’s name tends to remain anonymous throughout the case. However, the accused perpetrator’s name is released immediately and speculation about them begins right away. People judge them, ignore them, and question their integrity. I am not debating how serious the crime of rape is. However, it is estimated that over half of all rape allegations are false. That means that over half of the accused perpetrators being judged are actually innocent. The extent to which an accused perpetrator is judged increases significantly in high profile cases involving celebrities and athletes.
Jameis Winston couldn’t have started off his collegiate football career any better. The Seminoles were undefeated and had just dismantled the Third ranked Clemson Tigers in Death Valley. Jameis Winston had become the clear favorite to win the coveted Trophy. He was on top of the world. Then suddenly a rape allegation came out. He quickly went from being one of the most loved college athletes to one of the most questioned. He lost a significant chunk of his fans and much of the world went from cheering for him to despising him. The Seminoles quickly regained the nick name the crimiNOLES and Jameis was given the title “Rapist”.
Last December Willie Meggs decided not to press criminal charges against Jameis Winston. He did not feel there was near enough evidence to even possibly convict Jameis Winston of a crime. Now let me get this straight, I cannot tell you what happened between Jameis and his accuser. All we know is that they did have sex (Winston’s DNA was found on the accuser). However, there is a significant difference between consensual sex and rape. After reading over all of the evidence and the police report I can confidently say that I understand why Meggs decided not to press charges. There was zero evidence that a rape had taken place. Winston’s roommates saw part of the encounter (they were dealt with separately) and said that the encounter between Winston and the accuser was consensual and that she was not impaired. Although his teammates may have a bias, the accuser’s friends also supported the fact that she was not drunk when she left Potbelly’s (a popular Tallahassee bar) for Winston’s apartment. To further support this, toxicology reports determined that she was capable of making a decision on whether or not to engage in intercourse. The accuser’s claim that she hardly remembered anything about both leaving the bar and the events that took place after does not have any evidence to back it up. The accuser’s attorney also stated that her client would never sleep with a “black boy”. However, she was actually dating a black male at the time and his semen was also found on her shorts at the hospital. I am not going to speculate reasons that the accuser would file a false rape claim because I cannot say without a doubt that she was not raped. However, I can confidently say that there was not near enough evidence to charge Jameis Winston with a crime. However, he received a life sentence for the term “rapist” being associated with his name.
Let’s hypothetically say that Jameis Winston is in fact innocent. Think about everything that has been taken from him due to the rape claim. He lost the respect of millions of people around the country. His draft stock went down significantly. He is looked upon as if he is one of the worst people in the country. And don’t tell me that he got caught stealing crab legs so he deserves it. This is a petty crime. I am not saying it was a smart decision or that he shouldn’t be remotely scrutinized for it but many athletes have committed much more serious crimes and not received near the hatred Winston has drawn. For example, while at the University of Florida, Cam Newton stole a fellow students laptop. He was kicked out of the university but no one seems to acknowledge his crime. Jameis isn’t despised by many because he is a “thief”. He is despised because he is “rapist”. Due to this label, if Jameis is actually innocent, he endures many of the same issues that rape victims suffer from. He is judged. He feels violated. He doesn’t understand why something like this would happen to him. And worst of all, he has to deal with the repercussions of this event for the rest of his life.
Again, I am not saying that Jameis Winston did not rape the accuser. However, make sure you do your research before you label someone a “rapist”. You don’t want to accidentally “rape” an innocent person.