The Nonhunt For The Great Black Defendant

The New York Times has a long investigative report into the unenthusiastic year-long police inquiry into the allegation against 2013 Heisman Trophy winning Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston that he raped a 19 year old coed in 2012:

A Star Player Accused, and a Flawed Rape Investigation 

By WALT BOGDANICH

No charges were ever filed against the leader of the 2013 national champion Seminoles. As Tom Wolfe pointed out in A Man in Full in 1997, when a white coed charges a black Heisman Trophy candidate with rape, the local power structure, white and black, mobilizes to make the case disappear. 

It`s interesting to compare coverage of this case to coverage of another Florida case, the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman story, which was always framed in racial terms of black and white (even though Zimmerman turned out to look kind of like the son President Obama never had). Similarly, the NYT`s pet obsession, the Duke lacrosse rape hoax, was always depicted as racial.

In contrast, the words “black” and “white” don`t appear in this article even though Winston is black. The word “blond” does appear once in the article, although anybody can dye their hair any color these days. Hunting around on the Internet, it took me a while to find anything definitive on the race of the coed. I finally came up with this bit in a CBS News article:

After being interviewed on Nov. 13, 2013, Ronald Darby signed an affidavit stating that while at Potbelly’s on December 6, “I watched Jameis talking with a white female that had blonde hair. It appeared that the female was pursuing Jameis.”

Personally, I think the Jameis Winston case says an awful lot about race in the modern South, just as Wolfe did with his (quasi-)fictional version a couple of decades ago, but nobody else seems to think that angle is of the slightest interest.