It has been a long journey from accusations of sexual misconduct to a hearing for Florida State University quarterback Jameis Wilson and the trek still isn’t over. It has been so long, in fact, that Winston’s lawyer now charges that the university has violated its own policy on a timely prosecution.
Attorney David Cornwell also points out that the two-year lag between the accusations of misconduct leveled at his client and the still-to-come hearing on the matter also violate federal Title IX investigation rules demanding that inquiries be conducted in a timely manner.
“Winston’s cooperation came with the expectation that the process would be fair,” Cornwell wrote in a letter to FSU administrators. “In this regard, I advise FSU that I believe ‘Mr. Winston is entitled to an explanation for FSU’s decision to ignore its own policy with respect to the timeliness of the Title IX process.'”
Winston was charged with sexual misconduct back in 2012 in an incident that could result in four possible violations of the school code for sexual misconduct and two for endangerment in relation to a sexual assault.
Despite the charges that are still wending through the school’s system if not the criminal-justice system, the allegations are not expected to prevent Winston from playing, his lawyer said.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher agreed, recently saying that he doesn’t think the charges will affect Winston’s playing. “I know the facts of the case,” he said at a recent press conference. “The facts haven’t changed.”
But, Sports Illustrated notes that the whole situation is “unusual.”
Winston’s case is unusual in a few ways. First, he has not been charged with a student code of conduct violation. Cornwell also takes issue with the timing, as he said Florida State is going against its own policy of holding hearings within 12 months of alleged incidents. That’s not a precise rule, however, according to the school’s sexual harassment policy, which states: complaints “will generally not be investigated” more than a year from the filing date of the complaint. There’s a caveat for the rule, however, that says, “unless appropriate in the judgment” of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Compliance.
There is criticism from the other direction, as well.
John Clune, the lawyer for the alleged victim, said that Winston is just playing for time. “It sounds like the plan for Mr. Winston is to stall this out as long as possible to get through this football season,” he said.
Clune also charges the school with playing favorites.
“The Department Of Education says these cases should be resolved within 60 days of them learning of the harassment,” Clune said. “The school needs to be bigger than the football program for the moment and just get this hearing done. It’s not rocket science. They do these all the time for students that haven’t won the Heisman Trophy.”
But Winston’s attorney insists that he is only trying to get all the facts assembled and wants to prevent the alleged victim from changing her story.
“We’re not going to a hearing where we don’t have full-blown evidence,” said Cornwell. “When all the evidence comes in, her story is rejected. We want all of her prior statements. We don’t want to give her the opportunity to adjust her story and not impeach her with her prior statements.”
One move has been made, though, to mitigate any possible bias from the school.
It has been decided that three former Florida state judges with no ties to Florida State will preside over the upcoming hearing.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com