Is FSU QB Jameis Winston a Rapist?

C. Stiles

Whenever a celebrity athlete is accused of sexually assaulting a woman, it doesn't take long for the media machine to declare him guilty. It's happening to Florida State University star quarterback Jameis Winston, who stands accused of raping a Tampa Bay-area woman December 7, 2012. The alleged victim, who attended FSU, claims she didn't know the identity of her attacker until a month later, when she identified him as Winston.

Her family alleges the Tallahassee Police Department tried to sweep the investigation away to protect Winston, a Heisman Trophy contender who could lead the Seminoles to a national championship. State prosecutors will soon decide whether to file sexual assault charges against Winston.

However, the truth is never black-and-white in sexual battery scandals involving star players. In 1996, the Dallas Cowboys' Michael Irvin and Erik Williams were accused by a woman named Nina Shahravan of video-recording her while they held a gun to her head and raped her. She fabricated the entire story, recanted it, and eventually pleaded guilty to perjury and filing a false police report. Eleven years later, another woman accused Irvin of sexually assaulting her at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Prosecutors declined to file charges after reviewing the case. He sued her for defamation. They settled out of court in 2010.

And let's not forget Crystal Mangum, who in 2006 falsely accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping her. The case fell apart when DNA evidence failed to tie Mangum to any of the 46 white players on the team. She eventually recanted her statement and said she was not sure she had been raped, although she insisted some sort of sexual assault had taken place.

In Winston's case, his DNA matched evidence collected in the apartment where the alleged rape took place. However, his attorney has asserted Winston had consensual sex with her. His lawyer also told the Tallahassee Democrat he's provided law enforcement with two affidavits from witnesses present that night who defend Winston.

Maybe investigators quickly figured out her story wasn't adding up. What if this girl is not being honest about knowing Winston? He deserves the benefit of the doubt just as much as his accuser. It's only fair.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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