Winston with baseball team while football teammates face hearing
MAY 20, 2014 1:58p ET
Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston did not appear at a disciplinary hearing Tuesday for two of his Florida State football teammates facing student code-of-conduct charges for their actions the night he was accused of raping a woman, FOX Sports has learned.
Though he was listed as a witness, Winston traveled to North Carolina for the Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament.
Winston's attorney, Tim Jansen, said he was never notified that he needed to be at the hearing.
"Jameis was not a witness, was never invited or notified to be a witness to anything," Jansen told FOX Sports. "The baseball team left Sunday, he's still in North Carolina, and he will be there until Sunday."
The process the university used to notify witnesses is unclear, as is whether Winston can be penalized for not attending.
Tuesday’s hearing was scheduled after Seminoles defensive end Chris Casher and defensive back Ronald Darby were accused of breaking university rules when they admitted in sworn statements that they watched a 2012 sexual encounter involving Winston and a woman who called police a short time later and accused him of rape.
One of them separately told police he recorded part of the incident on his cell phone, then later got rid of the video.
The panel took testimony Tuesday. Under the school’s code-of-conduct policies, the disciplinary panel has 10 days to reach a decision and decide whether to impose discipline.
University officials told the accuser’s attorneys that Winston, who was not charged with a crime in the December 2012 incident at an off-campus apartment, was going to be called as a witness at the hearing.
However, Winston did not appear – apparently because he traveled to Greensboro, N.C. Winston is a pitcher and outfielder for the Seminoles, who are scheduled to open ACC tournament play Wednesday evening.
Jansen said he had no idea why attorneys for Winston's accuser were told he would be at the hearing and was expected to testify.
"The university never had contact with me or my client about any of those matters," Jansen said. "He was never requested. He didn't not go. He was never requested."
A photograph posted on Winston’s official Instagram account two days ago showed the player in a Florida State hoodie on a bus. The message along with it reads: “11 hour bus rides to Greensboro, North Carolina #thestruggle but we gotta get a ACC championship 1st#worththewait”
Winston, who burst onto the scene as a redshirt freshman quarterback and led Florida State to the BCS national championship last season, has never answered questions about the alleged sexual assault. His attorney, Tim Jansen, said Winston’s encounter with the woman was consensual.
Neither Casher nor Darby has responded to a request for comment left with the Florida State sports information staff. School officials also declined to comment, citing state and federal student privacy laws.
The woman who accused Winston of raping her is cooperating with Florida State’s investigation of Casher and Darby and appeared at Tuesday’s hearing. One of her attorneys, John Clune, released this statement:
"As reported, a hearing was held at Florida State today for the two students charged in connection with the investigation of Mr. Winston. Out of respect for the confidentiality of the school’s process, we will not comment on what transpired in the hearing room. We do confirm that our client was present, as were the two charged students. Although we were told by the school that Mr. Winston would be called as a witness, he did not show for the hearing and no further explanation was given."
The accuser first called university police early the morning of Dec. 7, 2012. The school immediately turned the case over to Tallahassee police after determining the incident occurred off campus. The woman said she had gone out drinking with friends at a bar called Potbelly's and that while she was there someone she did not know bought her a shot and from that point on she had broken memories of the incident.
She told police she ended up in a cab with several people and was taken to an apartment where she was raped, then was driven back to campus on a scooter.
At the time she made the report, she told investigators she did not know the identity of her attacker. The following month, however, the woman called police and identified Winston as the suspect after seeing him in a class.
Tallahassee police later put the case on hold for months, contending that the woman did not want to go forward with criminal charges – an assertion her attorneys repeatedly denied. In November, State Attorney Willie Meggs took over the case and conducted a new investigation.
Ultimately, he did not file any criminal charges, in part because the woman’s memory of the incident was too broken. But he also based part of the decision on the sworn statements from Casher and Darby, who backed up Winston’s assertion that the encounter was consensual.
Florida State officials this spring told Casher and Darby they face possible discipline on allegations of multiple violations of the code of conduct. Both men are accused of what amounts to sexual misconduct and invasion of privacy. And Casher is additionally accused of videotaping someone in a place in which he or she would have expected privacy. If either Casher or Darby is found to have violated the student code of conduct, he could face discipline up to expulsion from Florida State.
What happens to Casher and Darby – if anything – could have implications for Winston.
The federal government has launched an investigation of Florida State’s handling of the Winston case.
The federal gender equity lawn known as Title IX requires all schools receiving federal funds to launch “prompt and equitable” investigations of sexual assaults involving students and to take whatever action is appropriate. The directive from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights anticipates the completion of those investigations within 60 days in most cases.
FOX Sports reported earlier this year that Florida State officials did not attempt to question Winston about the incident until January 2014 – more than a year after he was first identified as a possible suspect in the alleged rape.
If federal investigators conclude that Florida State administrators did not conduct a proper probe, they will work with school officials to make sure one is conducted. Though Winston would not face criminal charges because Florida prosecutors have already said there was not enough evidence to charge him, it’s possible he could still face discipline from the university, including expulsion.