I think the state’s attorney got it right in the Jameis Winston case, when deciding against charging him with the rape of his accuser.
It’s not easy for me to say that.
This case touched a nerve with me, and chilled me to my core.
Years ago, while attending a large university, I was raped by a football player. We both lived on campus, and he was known to me as an acquaintance. In fact, I had a little crush on him. One Saturday night, I wasn’t feeling well. Most of the dorm was empty. My fellow classmates were either out at parties, or had gone home to spend the weekend with their families. My roommate was visiting her boyfriend. I had a cold, so I stayed in.
He called me that night, asking if I was interested in trading CDs- I had a massive collection, and so did he. We’d spoken in the dining hall on more than one occasion about swapping albums. I remember being a little mortified at the thought of seeing him, on account of I didn’t look very good, having been sick most of the day.
Reluctantly, I agreed.
I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, I ended my night in the emergency room with several injuries, and a positive rape kit. After my release from the ER, I went to the police station with my parents and pressed charges.
He was picked up in his dorm (after his roommate swore repeatedly he wasn’t there), and was quickly charged with rape.
While not a national story, mine was a sensational scoop among the locals. I was stalked, threatened and harrassed. Once, I even tried to drop the charges, as I was scared, lonely, and caving under the pressure of it all.
My request was denied, and I was threatened with arrest, should I choose to stop cooperating with the prosecuting attorney‘s office.
The trial took place about nine months later, and my rapist was convicted after a jury deliberated for just under three hours. I remember the tears streaming down his face as they took him into custody after the guilty verdict was read.
After serving the bulk of his sentence, my rapist had his conviction overturned. The appellate judge said he hadn’t received a fair trial. He was ordered re-tried or released. The choice was mine, and I chose to let it go, and walk away. In my mind, by making this decision, I was finally putting a period on the end of this horrible run-on sentence. I was moving on.
If I thought it was over, I was sorely mistaken.
He subsequently sued the state for wrongful imprisonment.
Seems I couldn’t put a period on it afterall, and all these years later, I’m still trying to move on.
Now comes Jameis Winston, and the state attorney’s decision not to press charges against him in the sexual assault of his accuser. I purposely avoided the media coverage as much as I could, but when word got out that all 86 pages of the investigative material had been released to the public, I couldn’t help myself.
Anxiously, I read every single page.
I’m jaded. I’m nothing close to unbiased, and don’t pretend to be. Yet after reading all of it, I was devastated. I’ve been accused by too many people to count as being someone who wrongfully accused an innocent man of rape. My name is on websites as a person who purposely, knowingly lied about being sexually assaulted. I’ve been listed among the names of people who have falsified rape allegations.
I know my journey, I know the truth about what I went through. That’s why it never once dawned on me that people actually do fake these things. Because of my experience, because of how terrible every single second of it was, and because of the pain and trauma I carry with me to this day, I never paused long enough to consider that sometimes women lie.
I don’t know what happened between Jameis and his accuser. I do know her story changed multiple times. I know she told two of her friends he hit her on the head, causing her to black out, and therefore remembers nothing of the assault. I know she told investigators something altogether different.
I don’t know who is lying, and if it’s her, I don’t know why she pursued this.
I do know that had this case gone to trial, there would not have been a conviction. I also know about women, and how vengeful people can be when they think they’ve been treated badly.
I know the risk males- especially black males- take when they put themselves in positions of weakness, when they treat women badly, and then expect those women to stand up and act honorably on behalf of them.
Sometimes women lie, and men go to jail for crimes they didn’t commit. Many times, though, women are telling the truth, and the men that assaulted them go free.
No one but Jameis Winston and his accuser truly know what happened that night. Just as no one but my rapist and me truly know what happened the night he assaulted me.
If his accuser was not telling the truth, I hope she gets help, and comes to understand the gravity of what she tried to do. I hope she comes to appreciate the life she has forever changed, and I hope she comes to terms with why she made the choices she made that night.
I hope Jameis sees this for the close call it was. As with all things, there’s a lesson to be learned from this experience. I hope he comes to realize how close he came to the fire, and how he almost got himself burned.