Tuesday December 23rd, 2014

A lawyer for the woman who accused Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexually assaulting her says "the fix was in" when the university cleared him of violating the school's code of conduct.

The lawyer, Baine Kerr, told the Associated Press that Florida State did not conduct a fair hearing, calling the proceedings a "mockery ... that ignored what the evidence was."

Citing evidence “insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof,” officials cleared Winston of allegations that he violated four sections of the school’s code of conduct -- two for sexual misconduct and two for endangerment. Winston, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner, could have been expelled had he been found guilty.

"I don't want to impugn the proceeding as corrupt, but I think it was biased and the fix was in," Kerr told the AP. "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."

Winston did not testify during the hearing but gave a written statement saying that sex with the woman was consensual.

"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.

Later Tuesday, Florida Bar president Gregory W. Coleman released a statement defending Major Harding, the former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court who served as the hearing officer for Winston's code of conduct hearing.

From Coleman's statement:

"Major Harding, a former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court who presided over the FSU code of conduct hearing, is one of the most highly respected lawyers in Florida and in the United States. To say that he is anything but thoroughly unbiased and of the highest integrity is unacceptable. ... Kerr's comments were completely off-base and irresponsible.

"It is unfortunate that Kerr chose to attack someone like former Supreme Court Justice Harding. I would caution Kerr to follow his oath as an attorney to be professional and to maintain the respect due to all who are unquestionably dedicated to fairness and impartiality."

Winston’s accuser has five school days to appeal the school’s decision.

Florida State is currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education on how it handled the Winston case, which could be a possible Title IX violation.

The Seminoles, who have won 29 games in a row, face Oregon in the College Football Playoffs semifinal on Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl.

- Scooby Axson

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