JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Last month, State Attorney Willie Meggs announced that his office would not file sexual assault charges against Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston, saying there wasn't enough evidence to win a criminal trial.
Now the attorney for Winston's accuser, Pat Carroll, has said she and her client plan to pursue a civil suit against Winston, the Tallahassee Police Department and possibly the university.
The main difference in winning the civil suit is that the accuser only has to prove her case to the majority, not beyond any reasonable doubt as she would in a criminal case. That doesn't mean that this case, if it does make it to the courtroom, will be something she can win.
"The decisions that have to be made by her are very difficult ones," said Gene Nichols, a defense attorney who's not affiliated with the case. "To decide, 'Do I want to put myself out there? Do I want the nation to know who I am? Do I want everyone to know this is who I am?'"
Nichols said that if the case makes it to the courtroom, Winston's accuser will most likely have her identity revealed publicly.
"Because there is the possibility that the whole world is going to know everything there is to possibly know about her, from the time she was born until now, that is a decision that many people say they don't want to go through with," Nichols said.
He said in cases like this, the accuser will often try to prove that, because of the incident that happened, she suffered emotional damages.
"I am sure that based on what she will likely allege that they have caused psychological and traumatic injuries to her, as well as the inability to go back to Florida State University has hurt her financially," Nichols said.
But Nichols is hopeful that, unlike the criminal case that played out very publicly late last year, the civil case happens a little bit more under the radar.
"Let's focus on what's most important, and that is your client and whether there is enough to go forward with, a lawsuit against Mr. Winston," Nichols said. "If there is, I fully expect that we will see one. From there, I would expect that it is something that would get settled without making it into trial."
Tim Jansen, Winston's attorney, didn't return calls for comment on the possible lawsuit.
A spokesman for the Tallahassee Police Department offered this comment: "Based upon the facts and information gathered, no violation of Department policy or Florida Law was identified on the part of the investigators assigned to this case; therefore no formal internal affairs investigation will be conducted in this matter."
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