Jameis Winston hears the accolades, but echoes of accusations linger

She immediately called the Tallahassee police and a report was filed. A month later, she saw her suspected attacker in one of her classes and identified him as Winston. At the time, he was a redshirt freshman quarterback who had yet to appear in a game. But he was considered the top quarterback recruit in the country and the centerpiece of the rebirth of a formerly great program.

Here's what happened once Winston's name was mentioned. There were no DNA samples taken from Winston. His lawyer would not allow any questioning of his client. The only strong action allegedly came from Tallahassee Det. Scott Angulo to family attorney Patricia Carroll, in words that were made public in a statement issued by the family.

Detective (Scott) Angulo told the attorney that Tallahassee was a big football town and the victim needs to think long and hard before proceeding against (Winston) because she will be raked over the coals and her life will be made miserable.

The investigation was halted for nearly a year until media reports brought it back to the headlines last month. At that point, the Florida state attorney's office took over, and a DNA sample was taken that matched Winston with DNA found in the woman's underwear. Winston still wouldn't talk, and the only words in his defense were virtually identical sworn statements from two teammates who allegedly witnessed the sexual encounter.

Ronald Darby, defensive back: "At no time did the girl ever indicate that she was not a willing participant."

Chris Casher, defensive end: "She never indicated that she was not a willing participant."

Then on Dec. 5, shortly before the last Heisman vote was cast and two days before Florida State played a game that would qualify it for the national title game, the investigation was officially closed and Winston's name was officially cleared.

The Florida state attorney acknowledged that the 11-month delay hurt the investigation. But he also cited the potential case was irreparably damaged by the presence of a second DNA sample on her clothes and by the accuser's memory lapses, which were more damaging because she did not test positive for drugs or high levels of alcohol. The accuser's lawyer countered by noting her client was never tested for date rape drugs. She also claimed several other investigative inconsistencies, but to no avail.

On Friday, despite Carroll's public pleas, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced the case would not be reopened, meaning it's all over but the laughter.

Yes, the laughter, which unsettlingly came from State Attorney Meggs and his cohorts during the investigation-ending news conference. They laughed at questions, they laughed at their answers, they acted as if they were attending a Florida State victory party instead of the resolution of an alleged sexual assault.

A smiling Jameis Winston was certainly ready to party.

I know I did nothing wrong.

Then there was this happy perspective of Florida State fan Peter Cude, in an interview with WCTV in Tallahassee.

I thought something might come from it, we might not have him anymore … it's relieving now.

There are no winners in this story, only the he-said, she-said words that make some rape cases so difficult to make sense of. The damage done to the reputations of the accused and the alleged victim will take a long time to heal.

Thousands of fans such as Cude will be descending on Pasadena next month, a group easily recognizable because they will be triumphantly wearing the school's colors of garnet and gold.

Buried in some file cabinet on the other side of the country is a police report in which an alleged sexual assault victim remembers those are also the approximate colors of the sheets on Jameis Winston's king-sized bed.

Twitter: @billplaschke