TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston has been cleared by a school panel that considered whether he violated the student conduct code in relation to allegations that he sexually assaulted another student two years ago.
Winston was not arrested in the alleged 2012 incident, but he faced a code-of-conduct violation charge for sexual misconduct in the university hearing.
The independent hearing officer on the panel, Major B. Harding, ruled that “in sum, the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for any of the charged violations of the code.
“Namely, I find that the evidence before me is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof,” the ruling says.
Florida State’s investigation was launched under Title IX, which requires schools to investigate allegations of sexual assault, even if criminal charges are never filed.
Winston has denied the allegations throughout. Winston’s attorneys have said the athlete had consensual sex with the woman.
A lawyer for the accuser issued a strongly worded statement in response to the ruling.
“We are stunned and dismayed by the order,” attorney John Clune said. “It’s not a ‘decision’ at all, but a statement that the judge couldn’t decide.”
Clune said that of the four people inside the apartment where the rape allegedly took place, only the accuser testified. Winston and two other football players who were there refused to testify “and somehow Jameis Winston still wins.”
The accuser’s attorneys are considering an appeal, but for now, “we feel a little duped,” Clune said.
Florida State President John Thrasher commended the work of Harding, a former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court.
“He conducted a thorough Student Conduct Code hearing and reviewed more than 1,000 pages of evidence generated by three other investigations, and we would like to thank him sincerely for his service,” Thrasher said.
Winston, who won the Heisman trophy in 2013, led the Seminoles to an undefeated regular season and a place in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Florida State will play Oregon in the Rose Bowl on January 1. The winner will advance to the National Championship game against either Alabama or Ohio State.