Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and the woman who has said he sexually assaulted her spent nearly five hours in separate rooms at a closed-door hearing recounting what happened nearly two years ago.
The university hearing adjourned apparently with no resolution and is scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Florida State held the hearing in a campus building to determine whether Winston violated the school’s student code of conduct. More witnesses are expected to testify about what happened in December 2012.
Winston look somber-faced as he left the hearing and did not answer reporters’ questions as he left.
Attorney David Cornwell, adviser to the Winston family and who is representing the QB at the proceeding, said the hearing went “basically as we expected.”
“We think this nightmare will be over very soon,” Cornwell said.
The hearing before a former Florida Supreme Court chief justice is closed to the public and media. It is to determine whether Winston violated any or all of four sections of the code of conduct – two for sexual misconduct and two for endangerment. It is not like a normal criminal proceeding since attorneys for Winston and the former student are not allowed to question witnesses or make statements.
The ramifications for Winston range from a reprimand to expulsion from school. Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding, who is presiding over the hearing, has 10 school days after the hearing to make a decision. Either Winston or the woman can request an appeal within five days of the initial hearing decision.
The semester at Florida State ends next week, so Harding’s decision may not be known until January.
John Clune, the attorney for the former FSU student who said Winston assaulted her, called the hearing “empowering,” saying it gave the woman a chance to tell her side of the story although he said at times it was “difficult” for her. He said the woman chose not to testify in the same room with Winston because “that’s not just something that is a healthy thing for our client.”
“It’s a big day,” Clune said. “The first thing is that she wanted to be heard. And she’s had the opportunity to do that. And after that she would like to be validated.”
Winston was not arrested following an investigation of the woman’s allegation. Prosecutor Willie Meggs declined to file charges last December, citing a lack of evidence.
Cornwell has contended that attorneys for the former student pushed for the hearing after they were rebuffed in an attempt to reach a settlement with Winston. He repeated that assertion on Tuesday and said he was “confident” that the hearing officer will rule in Winston’s favor after hearing him “tell the truth today.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, two of Winston’s teammates – Chris Casher and Ronald Darby – who were present when the alleged assault took place, were seen entering 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.
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.
Off-field problems have been a consistent issue for one of college football’s biggest stars.
Since Meggs announced he wasn’t filing charges against Winston in December 2013, the quarterback has been involved in two widely publicized off-field incidents.
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.
Winston 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.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.