Dec 3, 2014 5:34 PM
Jameis Winston's FSU hearing ends, no decision
The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) A two-day hearing at Florida State that could determine quarterback Jameis Winston's future at the university ended on Wednesday with no decision and no definitive timetable on when the case will be resolved.
The hearing, which was held approximately two years after a female student said Winston sexually assaulted her in December 2012, was held to determine whether Winston violated any or all of four sections of the code of conduct two for sexual misconduct and two for endangerment.
John Clune, an attorney representing the woman at the closed hearing, did predict that the former Florida State Supreme Court justice presiding over the proceedings will announce his decision by the end of the year.
Justice Major Harding has given both sides up to five days to submit a proposed order on what they think the outcome should be, Clune said. Harding will use those briefs as the basis for his decision, which is supposed to come within 10 class days after the hearing ends.
Both parties have an opportunity to request an appeal within five days of the initial hearing decision. Florida State's fall semester ends next week and the potential ramifications for Winston range from a reprimand to expulsion from school.
Attorneys for both Winston and the former FSU student had starkly different assessments of how the hearing went for their clients.
David Cornwell, an adviser for Winston and his family, said the hearing contained "more inconsistencies" and "more lies" about what happened in December 2012. He said that there was "no evidence" presented that should prompt a hearing officer to find Winston violated FSU's conduct rules. Cornwell repeated his assertions that the entire point of the hearing was to establish a record that could be used in a potential civil lawsuit against the Heisman Trophy winner.
"It was clear what this was about, absolutely clear what this was about, it is a shakedown," Cornwell said.
Clune brushed aside Cornwell's statements, saying that the hearing went well enough that he thinks there is enough evidence presented to convince the hearing officer to expel Winston from school.
"The testimony came in as we had hoped it would," Clune said.
Clune also said the prospect of a civil lawsuit could depend on what happens to Winston.
Winston was never arrested following an investigation of the woman's allegation. Prosecutor Willie Meggs declined to file criminal charges last year, citing a lack of evidence.
The Associated Press does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse.
The hearing was closed to the public and media. Winston did not speak to reporters outside the campus building and is expected to lead the Seminoles against Georgia Tech Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.
While Clune acknowledged that his client had testified, a document obtained by the AP states that Winston used his right in the student code to refuse to answer questions from the hearing officer.
The document, which was Winston's five-page statement in the case, says that he would only answer questions in a legal proceeding where the woman could be charged with perjury if she lied.
In his statement, Winston said he had consensual sex with the woman in his apartment and that he never used "physical violence, threats or other coercive means" to get her to have sex with him. He also said he did not buy her a drink when they first met at a Tallahassee bar nor did he give her any drugs. Winston also said the woman never seemed upset and even hugged him when he dropped her off at an FSU dorm.
When informed of Winston's statement, Clune questioned its merits.
"This was not testimony," Clune told the AP, "but just something obviously written by his lawyer. Mr. Winston still has yet to answer our questions about his conduct."
The hearing was held as Florida State is investigated by the U.S. Department of Education on how it handles possible Title IX violations. The woman who said Winston assaulted her filed a complaint with the department's Office for Civil Rights, which decided the university should be investigated for the way it responds to sexual violence complaints.
Title IX is a federal statute that bans discrimination at schools that receive federal funding. The Department of Education in 2011 warned schools of their legal responsibilities to immediately investigate allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence, even if the criminal investigation has not concluded.
Associated Press Writer Kareem Copeland contributed to this report.
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