Florida State quarterback Winston faces conduct hearing on rape accusation
By Bill Cotterell
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) - Florida State University star quarterback Jameis Winston, accused of raping a female student nearly two years ago, on Tuesday faced the first day of a student conduct code hearing that both sides hope will resolve a nationally watched case.
Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy last year as the nation's top college football player, is accused of violating the university's standards during an December 2012 incident, which his lawyers have maintained was a consensual sexual encounter.
A Florida state attorney last year found insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Winston, a sophomore.
However, a conduct code violation requires a significantly lower burden of proof. Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding, retained by the university to conduct the hearing, could find up to four parts of the code were violated, expected to continue on Wednesday.
Under university protocol, Winston could receive discipline ranging from a reprimand to expulsion if a violation is found.
Three or four witnesses testified during Tuesday's hearing, said John Clune, one of the female accuser's attorneys, who spoke to reporters after the proceeding ended for the day.
"For our client, it was a very empowering day," he said.
Winston left the hearing beside his attorney, ignoring reporters shouting questions as they got into a dark SUV. Continued...