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Jameis Winston Cleared in FSU Hearing Over Alleged Rape

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on December 22, 2014 10:39 AM

Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared Sunday of allegations that he violated the student conduct code by sexually assaulting another student.

A two-day Student Conduct Code hearing was held earlier this month in front of former Florida Supreme Court justice Major Harding. In a letter to Winston, Harding wrote that the evidence in the case was "insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof," reports ESPN.

That decision comes more than a year after a similar decision by Florida prosecutors not to charge Winston with a crime in the alleged 2012 sexual assault.

Student Conduct Code Hearing

The Student Conduct Code hearing earlier this month was not a criminal proceeding but rather a disciplinary hearing that followed Florida State University's own guidelines. As such, Winston was not facing any potential criminal penalties, but may have faced expulsion if the hearing had determined he violated the school's Student Conduct Code.

Winston reportedly refused to testify at the hearing, instead submitting a statement invoking his right under the Student Conduct Code not to answer questions until "experienced lawyers and other experts can assist me in confronting [the accuser's] false accusation and when [the accuser] is subject to the penalty of perjury and other claims for [the accuser] falsely accusing me of rape," reports ESPN.

Following the two-day hearing and a review of the evidence gathered by investigations into the events in question, Harding determined that neither side presented a version of events that was substantially stronger than the other. "In sum, the preponderance of the evidence has not shown that you are responsible for any of the charged violations of the Code," Harding wrote in his letter to Winston.

Decision May Be Appealed, Title IX Investigation Ongoing

As in criminal court, the decisions in most college disciplinary hearing may be appealed. In this case, the woman who made the allegations against Winston has five days to request an appeal.

Florida State University also remains the subject of a Title IX investigation into the way it handles sexual violence complaints. Title IX is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs. Under Title IX, schools are required to take prompt and effective steps eliminate the hostile environment created by sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and remedy any effects it may have had.

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