Tom Wolfe Alert: Heisman Trophy Frontrunner Won't Be Charged With Rape (This Time, At Least)

imageA continuing theme here is how often the latest headlines resemble plots in old Tom Wolfe novels. From the NYT:

Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback who was a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s top player before accusations of sexual assault surfaced, will not face charges, the state attorney for Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit said Thursday. ...

Winston, 19, has been the most dominant player in college football this season, and his Florida State team is undefeated and a contender for the national championship. But ever since a sexual assault allegation by a former Florida State student became public last month, his on-field exploits have been weighed against how law enforcement in a rabid college football community handled the investigation as well as the role character plays in awarding one of sport’s most iconic awards: the Heisman Trophy. ...

The 19-year-old woman first reported an off-campus sexual assault to the police on Dec. 7, 2012. ... 

The woman told the police she was raped at an apartment after a night of drinking at a bar near campus, according to a search warrant released hours before Meggs’s announcement. She said she was with friends and had five to six shots at a local bar and that her “memory is very broken from that point forward.” She told the police that she had taken a cab with a “nondescript” black man to an apartment where she was raped. She did not identify that man as Winston until about a month after she reported the assault. 

She tried to fight the man off, and at some point, another man intervened and told him to stop, according to the warrant. But the two went into a bathroom “where he completed the act.” She had no idea where the assault took place, she said, but recalls riding on a scooter and being dropped off at a campus intersection. 

Evidence gathered the day of the incident matched Winston’s DNA, which was collected by the police last month. Winston’s lawyer, Tim Jansen, of Tallahassee, said Winston had consensual sex with the accuser, a contention that the woman’s family has vehemently denied. 

“In the lab work we did, there was DNA from two males: Winston’s DNA and the other was unknown,” Meggs said. “If we had proceeded to trial, not knowing whose that DNA is would have been a problem.”

This is of course the central plot device of Wolfe's novel A Man in Full that brings together the elite of Atlanta, black and white, as they try to make their problem go away: the daughter of Georgia Tech's chairman of the board of governors is accusing Georgia Tech's Heisman Trophy contender of raping her after a night of drinking.

You would assume that the Jameis Winston case would have been a huge story in the New York Times all fall with lots of long think pieces about the Meaning of It All. After all, the prestige press has been getting worked up recently over Rape Culture on Campus and in the Military and the like. But it has been slow to delve much into this particular story about the star of the #1 team beyond laconic news accounts like this one because it runs into other social concerns: promoting black quarterbacks, and the worry that the woman is white.

In contrast, the NYT was all over a story a year or two ago about an obscure white college quarterback accused of rape in some place like Montana or Wyoming. He wound up acquitted.

There's a similar case at the Naval Academy where three black football players are accused of raping a female student, presumably white, but that has gotten some Serious Attention because that can be filed under the Sexual Assault Epidemic in the Military category (talk about bogus trend stories ...). And the alleged rapists are not shattering stereotypes by playing quarterback.