Winston’s FSU teammates face Tuesday disciplinary hearing
Two Florida State teammates of star quarterback Jameis Winston face a disciplinary hearing Tuesday stemming from their actions the morning Winston was accused of raping a fellow student, FOX Sports has learned.
Winston, who was not charged with a crime in the incident at an off-campus apartment in December 2012, may be asked to testify at the hearing.
Defensive end Chris Casher and defensive back Ronald Darby both signed sworn statements in which they asserted they watched Winston have sex with the accuser and that the encounter appeared to them to be consensual. Casher also later told police that he filmed part of the encounter on his cell phone.
Both face possible discipline from Florida State as a result of violating the school’s student code of conduct.
Winston, who 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.
John Clune, an attorney representing the woman who alleged Winston raped her, confirmed that the hearing is scheduled Tuesday at Florida State – and that the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback is expected to be present and may be questioned.
“We’ve been told by the university that he’s going to be called as a witness,” Clune said. “We expect him to be called.”
Neither Casher nor Darby could be reached for comment. School officials 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, Clune said.
The allegation against Winston centered on the woman’s report to university police early on Dec. 7, 2012. The school immediately turned the case over to Tallahassee police after determining that it 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, 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.
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.
Tuesday’s hearing also 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.