Jameis Winston doesn't testify

ByMark Schlabach ESPN logo
Thursday, December 4, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida Statequarterback Jameis Winston's student conduct code hearing ended Wednesday without the quarterback testifying to allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman nearly two years ago, sources close to the case confirmed to ESPN.com.

Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, made a statement, but didn't answer questions from retired Florida State Supreme Court Chief Justice Major Harding during the two-day hearing. Harding is considering whether Winston committed as many as four violations of FSU's student conduct code, including two related to sexual misconduct, for his actions during a sexual encounter with the woman in December 2012.

Harding gave the attorneys five days to file legal briefs, and John Clune, the woman's attorney, said he expects Harding to make a decision within two to three weeks.

Winston and the woman spent more than seven hours attending the hearing on the FSU campus on Wednesday. If found to be in violation of FSU's student conduct code, Winston might face punishment ranging from a written or verbal reprimand to suspension or expulsion from school. Winston and the woman can both appeal Harding's ruling.

FSU's policies and procedures didn't require Winston to answer any or all questions at the hearing. Winston also refused to talk to Tallahassee police detectives when they were investigating the case nearly two years ago, and he also declined to talk to investigators from the state attorney's office when they were considering the case late last year.

"We finished the hearing today," said David Cornwell, Winston's attorney. "We're pleased that it's over. We know now what the game plan was because the only thing that we got were more inconsistencies and more lies. This process was about making a record to do as I have always said, taking this matter to civil court.

"We will do our best to shut it down with our briefs, and have Justice Harding conclude that Jameis didn't do anything wrong. There certainly was no evidence in two days that suggested otherwise."

Clune said he expects Harding to find Winston responsible for sexually assaulting his client. The woman, a former FSU student, alleges that Winston sexually assaulted her in his off-campus apartment.

"We want him to be found responsible and want him to be expelled from school," Clune said. "I think knowing the facts of the case and what has been presented, I think there is a very, very good chance of that happening."

It is not a surprise that Winston chose not to testify or answer questions from Harding. Legal experts have previously said that by testifying Winston might have exposed himself to potential criminal charges or hurt his defense in a future civil suit filed by the accuser.

On Tuesday, two of Winston's Florida State teammates, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, also chose not to testify on the advice of their attorneys. Casher and Darby, Winston's roommates who were at their apartment on the night of the alleged incident, previously provided police with sworn affidavits about what they saw on that night.

Clune questioned the credibility of Casher and Darby as witnesses.

"I think that's changed for a number of reasons," Clune said. "I think if Chris Casher and Ronald Darby were the sails behind this defense, that ship sank a long time ago. The number of inconsistent statements they've made even before this hearing has really changed the impact of any help they might be to Mr. Winston. I would say they're very unreliable witnesses. I wouldn't want them to be the basis for my defense if I were in trouble."

On Wednesday, FSU police officer Dinorah Harris, who initially responded to the woman's 911 call, and Jason Newlin, an investigator with the state attorney's office, were among the witnesses who testified. Clune said other witnesses testified via telephone on Wednesday.

Related Video