Lawyer: ‘Fix was in’ during Winston conduct hearing at FSU
(Associated Press) TALLAHASSEE – The lawyer for Jameis Winston’s accuser says “the fix was in” when Florida State cleared the star quarterback of violating the school’s code of conduct.
Baine Kerr, one of the woman’s lawyers, said the university did not conduct a fair hearing earlier this month.
“I don’t want to impugn the proceeding as corrupt, but I think it was biased and the fix was in,” Kerr said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “It’s all about a football game 10 days from today. It turned out to be just a predetermined whitewash to keep a guy playing football.”
A two-day hearing was held this month to determine whether the 2013 Heisman winner violated sections of the conduct code— two for sexual misconduct, two for endangerment.
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding ruled the evidence was “insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof.” Prosecutor Willie Meggs made a similar decision a year ago when he decided not to criminally charge Winston, citing lack of evidence.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has supported Winston throughout the process and said there’s a sense of relief now that the quarterback has been cleared. The Seminoles play Oregon in the semifinal of the first College Football Playoff on Jan. 1.
“I felt very happy for him and his family and the people involved with him,” Fisher said. “We’ve dealt with it in our own ways, but it is a relief. Especially for him.”
While Florida State is looking forward, Kerr said they are not ready to move on and are pondering the next step. The woman has five school days to file an appeal, but Kerr said they have not decided whether or not to pursue that course of action.
“The proper forum to getting to the truth is going to be the court of law, not, essentially, a sham court like this one turned out to be,” Kerr said.
Kerr does not believe the subject of consent was properly vetted. The woman testified that she asked Winston to stop and the code of conduct states that clear verbal consent must be given.
According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, Winston gave a statement during the hearing that detailed his account of the night. He exercised his right to decline to answer questions from the judge and the woman. Winston, however, did answer one question about consent. He said she verbally and physically consented by “moaning” during the sexual encounter.
“Moaning cannot possibly count as any evidence of consent,” Kerr said. “There has to be clear verbal consent. That’s not verbal and it’s not clear. Moaning can be from pain.
Winston said in his statement that woman was an active and willing participant in sexual acts that evening.
Kerr called the hearing a “mockery … that ignored what the evidence was.”
“It was not an impartial ruling,” Kerr said. “It was a ruling that went to great lengths and improper lengths to try to find a way to exonerate Winston.”
Winston’s family adviser David Cornwell declined comment through email Monday.
A university spokeswoman declined comment outside of the statement released by school president John Thrasher. Thrasher said the university selected the former state Supreme Court justice to remove any doubt about the integrity of the process.
“He (Harding) 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.
In the meantime, Florida State continues to prepare. Fisher said there’s no feeling of vindication.
“He’s on to his next thing,” Fisher said of Winston. “He’s focused on the team, like he always is.
“You hate for those situations for all parties involved. … There was a lot of scrutiny on it, but glad it’s over with and move on.”