Jameis Winston cleared by Florida State of violating code of conduct

Jameis Winston cleared by Florida State of violating code of conduct
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston after the Seminoles' 37-35 victory over Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Dec. 6. (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

Florida State has cleared quarterback Jameis Winston of wrongdoing following its code-of-conduct hearing addressing sexual-assault allegations made against the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner.

In a conclusion reached by Florida State and published partially on Twitter by Winston's lawyer, David Cornwell, the university said the quarterback didn't violate university policy based on evidence found during the investigation: "In sum, the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for ANY of the charged violations of the code."


In documents obtained by the Associated Press, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding wrote in a letter to Winston that the evidence was "insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof."

Winston attended the two-day hearing, which ended Dec. 3, but did not testify.

Winston was not criminally charged in the case after a former female student alleged he sexually assaulted her in December 2012. She can request an appeal of Florida State's decision within five days of the decision, the AP reported.

The university's hearing was aimed at determining whether Winston violated four sections of the code of conduct: two for endangerment and two for sexual misconduct.

In his letter to Winston discussing his findings, Harding indicated a lack of witnesses in the case influenced his decision.

"The accuser's statements concerning the night's events have changed over time, but [the] one point on which she has remained steadfast is that once in your room that you had sexual intercourse with her and that she did not consent to or actively participate in the intercourse.

"You, however, vehemently contradict the accuser's recitation of the night's events."

Harding said because Winston and his accuser were the only witnesses, he could "not find the credibility of one story substantially stronger than that of the other."

"Both have their own strengths and weaknesses," Harding wrote. "I cannot find with any confidence that the events as set forth by you, the accuser or a particular combination thereof is more probable than not as required to find you responsible for violations of the code. Therein lies the determinative factor of my decision."

If Winston had been found to have violated the university's code of conduct, possible penalties could have ranged from a reprimand to expulsion.

Winston, who led the Seminoles to a national title victory over Auburn last season at the Rose Bowl, has been suspended twice for non-football-related incidents. Last spring, he was briefly suspended by the Florida State baseball team for stealing crab legs from a supermarket. Winston is a pitcher for the team.

Winston also sat out this year's win over Clemson after shouting vulgar comments relating to the female anatomy from a table-top on campus.

Winston and the Seminoles are to play Oregon in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

The Associated Press and the Orlando Sentinel contributed to this report.