REPORT: POLICE BOTCHED JAMEIS WINSTON RAPE CASE
The News: An extensive New York Times report says that despite the existence of key witnesses, physical evidence and video, police conducted “virtually no investigation at all” of the rape allegation against Florida State University’s star quarterback Jameis Winston last year.
The Times report said university officials may have violated federal law by failing to immediately investigate the rape accusation, which arose from an encounter between Winston and a fellow student at his off-campus apartment in December 2012. The U.S. Department of Education is investigating the university.
Florida State has denounced the Times story as unfair and says that no school administrator knew about the rape accusation until it became public in November 2013.
Amid the controversy, Winston won the Heisman Trophy, college football’s highest individual award, and led Florida State to a national championship. Winston and his two roommates, who were present, say the quarterback and the woman had consensual sex.
The Take: What is it about the criminal justice system in northern and central Florida?
The allegations against Winston and Marissa Alexander, and against the killers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis were all investigated by police in northern Florida. (Sanford city police in central Florida conducted the initial investigation of Martin’s killing.) Each case was handled by prosecutors in northern Florida. And each of the outcomes has reeked of incompetence and willful, if not criminal, negligence.
For a sexual-assault case—most such cases are difficult to prosecute—this one presented unusually strong leads, down to two sources of video: one from the bar where Winston first met his accuser and the other created at the apartment, where a roommate told police he used his phone to record part of the sexual encounter.
Yet it seems Tallahassee police officer Scott Angulo gave up. The Times offers one plausible factor:
“Officer Angulo has done private security work for the Seminole Boosters, a nonprofit organization, with nearly $150 million in assets, that is the primary financier of Florida State athletics. … It also paid roughly a quarter of the $602,000 salary of the university president, Eric Barron, who was recently named president of Penn State.”
In Tallahassee, Florida State Seminoles football is king. FSU football in the 2012-13 season generated a profit of $20 million, according to the Department of Education. Forbes valued the football program at roughly $50 million before it won the championship, which the magazine estimates boosts a team’s revenue for the season by an average of 11 percent.
The frequency of universities underreporting allegations and failing to investigate them—often to avoid negative publicity—has contributed to a crisis of sexual assaults on America’s campuses. A new White House survey found 1 in 5 female students are victims of “attempted or completed sexual violence,” while just 1 in 8 women report such violence.
It is no wonder that college campuses are incubators for men’s abuse of women. The behavior can be so common, and subtle at first, that many men are in denial or do not recognize it in themselves. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 43 percent of college-age men admit to using “coercive behavior to have sex”—ignoring a woman’s objection, using physical aggression, forcing intercourse—“but did not admit that it was rape.”
OBAMACARE COVERS MORE BLACKS; GOP BACKPEDALS
The News: A picture is coming into focus of just how many Americans have gained insurance since enrollment under the Affordable Care Act opened in October, as enrollment momentum lowers the projected costs of the program.
Four percent of Americans say they are newly insured this year, with 2.1 percent of Americans reporting their coverage comes from a federal or state health exchange created under the Affordable Care Act, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday. The 4 percent are people who were previously uninsured.
The results, from a sampling of 20,000 adults in the United States conducted between March 4 and April 14, suggest that the law so far has been effective at insuring a significant number of young, presumably healthier people who are needed to offset the higher cost of covering older people with greater health-care needs. The survey found that people between ages 18 and 29 made up 30 percent of the newly insured, although they represent 21 percent of the general population.
Blacks make up 15 percent of the uninsured population, with some 6.8 million of them eligible for coverage under Obamacare. From October to February, nearly 3 percent of previously uninsured blacks gained coverage, according to a separate Gallup poll.
The enrollment gains prompted the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to lower its cost estimate for the health care law by $5 billion in 2014 and $104 billion over the next decade. The CBO also found “no clear evidence” that premiums will significantly surge in 2015.
The Take: Do you hear that sound? That's Republicans backpedaling on their crusade to repeal Obamacare.
The CBO report knocks the legs out from under the Republicans’ two most frequent lines of attack—premiums would skyrocket and lead to mass cancellations of plans; and a huge new bureaucracy would form, driving up government spending and wrecking the economy.
Now that the law is taking hold, it’s not a good look for Republicans to campaign on yanking the benefits from voters.
Gallup says the uninsured rate is dropping three times faster in states that opened health care exchanges and expanded Medicaid than it is in states that did not expand Medicaid and/or implement exchanges. Republicans governors in other states thought they had Obamacare licked by refusing to set up exchanges or expand Medicaid, but their efforts are failing in politically pivotal Florida, Michigan and North Carolina—all states where enrollment nonetheless has exceeded the national average.
From a backpedal to a pivot, Republicans are tweaking their message to swap out “repeal” for “replace.” When Congress returns from recess, House Republicans are expected to get to work on replacement legislation.
In North Carolina, the super PAC American Crossroads used both terms in its recent $1 million ad buy for a television spot supporting Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis’ bid for the U.S. Senate. The ad touts Tillis as “a fiscal conservative with the guts to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
So far, the tough talk isn't doing wonders for the candidate.
Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., writes The Take and is a contributing editor at The Root. He appears on MSNBC and CNN and contributes to NPR. He is a former NPR correspondent and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal. Give him your “take” on Twitter.
Corey Dade, an award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C., is a former national correspondent at NPR and political reporter at the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and other news organizations. Follow him on Twitter.