TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A December 2012 sexual battery investigation involving Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston came to a halt when the complainant decided she did not want to press charges, an e-mail sent Nov. 12 by City Manager Anita Favors Thompson to City Commissioners said. The Tallahassee Democrat obtained the e-mail Tuesday.
The case became active again last week, following media requests which prompted a review by the city's legal department and ultimately the State Attorney's office.
In the e-mail, Favors Thompson said the Tallahassee Police Department followed up on the case referred to it by Florida State University police "against FSU football player Jameis Winston" by a woman who indicated she was intoxicated at a local bar and was taken advantage of while impaired. TPD initiated an investigation and began to interview witnesses and compile details on the case, but stopped getting responses from the woman and could no longer contact her.
"Shortly thereafter a representative of the young woman's family who is an attorney contacted TPD and said the young woman had changed her mind and did not wish to prosecute," the e-mail said.
Favors Thompson was updating commissioners about media requests TPD officials had received for the police report that she expected to "have national media impact."
The city not only alerted commissioners, but also the office of FSU President Eric Barron, the FSU police chief and the woman's attorney.
"The young woman has been contacted as a courtesy to advise her that this information has been requested," Favors Thompson wrote.
In response to being contacted, the woman's attorney wrote a followup letter the same day to TPD Sgt. Joanna Baldwin. In the letter obtained by the Democrat Tuesday, the attorney said she understood from Baldwin, who telephoned her that morning, that TPD had been contacted by the media about the case and planned to release information the following day.
Citing Florida's Rape Shield Law, the attorney asked that no information pertaining to her client or "her rape" be released to the media. She also requested a full copy of the police report as well as copies of all medical and blood toxicology screening records or results.
"To be clear, the victim in the above referenced case is represented by counsel and does not wish to be contacted by anyone other than through counsel," said the attorney, a former prosecutor now in private practice. The attorney did not return calls for comment Friday or Tuesday.
TPD officials said an initial Nov. 8 media inquiry prompted a standard department review of the sexual-battery case that then resulted in the investigation becoming active again after months of inactivity.
But it was not the media inquiry itself that activated the investigation involving Winston.
"Someone integrally involved has (to have) given us a new piece of information," TPD spokesman David Northway told the Democrat this week. "It has to be someone involved in the case (who) provides a lead to reactivate it."
TPD investigators turned over the 11-month-old report of the alleged December 2012 off-campus incident to State Attorney Willie Meggs' office for the first time Nov. 12 after reporters with the Tampa Bay Times and TMZ requested it, interim Police Chief Tom Coe said Monday.
Meggs' reviewed the case following day, Nov. 13, and it was determined more police work had to be done before the dormant case could be wrapped up. The police department then switched the case status from "open-inactive" to "open-active," thereby making the investigative file and nearly everything about the case off-limits to the public.
That same day, Coe said he contacted the office of FSU President Eric Barron as a courtesy.
The redacted case was then released first to the Democrat late Wednesday afternoon and then to regional and national media outlets.
The case, which has attracted national media attention, was designated "open-inactive" until last week. It was considered "open-active" from Dec. 7, 2012, the day the report was taken, until sometime during or after February, when it stalled lacking information or leads to move it forward.
Northway said the investigation file of an "open-inactive case" may be released to the public if requested once the detective reviews it and determines there are no new angles to pursue. In order for a case to be reactivated - and closed from public view - a new piece of information or lead has to emerge. A media request on its own cannot cause a case to be reactivated, he said.
In Winston's case, that new piece of information came last week, Northway said.
Coe said on Monday the goal of the department is to discover the truth.
"We are trying to determine what happened that night and only two people know what happened," Coe said.
Sean Rossman and Jennifer Portman write for the Tallahassee Democrat.