Dec 2, 2014 12:54 PM

Jameis Winston student misconduct hearing underway

The Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) The student code of conduct hearing involving Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston began Tuesday, approximately two years after a female student said he sexually assaulted her in December 2012.

Before the Heisman Trophy winner and his Seminoles teammates play Georgia Tech on Saturday at Charlotte, North Carolina, in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game, Winston is participating in the university hearing to determine whether he violated any or all of possibly four sections of the code of conduct two for sexual misconduct and two for endangerment.

The hearing before a former Florida Supreme Court chief justice is closed to the public and media.

Winston was not arrested and Florida State attorney general Willie Meggs declined to file charges last December, citing a lack of evidence. Two of Winston's teammates, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, who were present when the alleged assault took place, were seen entering the hearing together in the afternoon. They left together less than a half-hour later.

The Associated Press is not identifying the woman because it does not identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse.

John Clune, the woman's attorney, issued a statement as the hearing began saying "this is the day that Mr. Winston has been desperately trying to avoid for two years."

"This courageous young woman finally gets the chance to stand up for herself and against Mr. Winston and big time college sports which has long run over the rights and protection of women on campus," Clune wrote. "Neither Jameis Winston nor his lawyer can stop what is coming."

Attorney David Cornwell, the Winston family adviser, told reporters outside the hearing that the woman is lying about what happened, saying the sexual encounter was consensual.

"Unfortunately, in these type of cases the only way to confront the lie is with the truth," Cornwell said. "Jameis will tell the truth today and we are confident that Justice (Major) Harding when he hears her multiple lies and Jameis' truth will find as every other entity to this point, that she is lying."

The hearing is being held at a time when Florida State is currently being investigated by the Department of Education on how hit handles possible Title IX violations. The woman who said Winston assaulted her filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, which decided the university should be investigated for possible Title IX violations over 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.

Winston has been involved in two widely publicized incidents of misconduct in 2014.

In April, he took $32 worth of crab legs and crawfish from a Tallahassee Publix. He said he forgot to pay, but he agreed to complete 20 hours of community service, which he did. He was briefly suspended from the baseball team, where he is a relief pitcher.

He was suspended for one game on the football team in September after he climbed atop a table in a Florida State lunchroom and yelled an obscene phrase.


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