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Both sides say Jameis Winston hearing was tough on them

Jameis Winston was cleared Sunday of breaking FSU conduct policy.
Jameis Winston was cleared Sunday of breaking FSU conduct policy.
Published Dec. 23, 2014

A day after Florida State star quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared of four university conduct code violations related to sexual assault allegations, the conversation shifted.

Instead of discussing whether the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner will remain on the field in the Rose Bowl against Oregon, the aftermath centered on how difficult the experience has been on Winston and the woman who accused him of rape.

"I don't think there are any winners in this," Winston's adviser, David Cornwell, said in an interview Monday morning on NBC Sports Radio.

That much was clear Monday when a transcript of Winston's code of conduct hearing was leaked.

The woman testified in the hearing this month that she dropped out of FSU after the allegations became public. She said she received numerous death threats while watching her "most horrible life experience" get detailed in the media.

"Since the night of my assault, (Winston) has become somewhat of a celebrity here," the woman said in the transcript, which was obtained Monday by the Tampa Bay Times. "My life, however, has gone in the opposite direction."

The ordeal has scarred Winston, too, according to him and his adviser.

"During this process I have learned how vicious this world can be," Winston said, according to the transcript.

Winston shared his version, of what he said was a consensual encounter, at the hearing and declined to answer questions from the woman's side. He did answer a line of questions from the hearing officer, retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding, about the woman's consent. Winston said she gave verbal and physical consent by moaning during the encounter.

In the NBC Sports Radio interview, Cornwell blasted the media for protecting the anonymity of the woman but not Winston.

"It's unbelievable to me that a 20-year-old stood up to this kind of pressure and performed the way that he did," Cornwell said. "This is the worst attack on an athlete that we have ever seen in the history of amateur sports."

The case could still continue. The woman has five class days to appeal the ruling. FSU's policies allow for appeals only because of due process violations, "demonstrated prejudice" by the hearing officer, new information or a disproportionate punishment.

Her side could file a civil lawsuit against Winston, FSU and/or the Tallahassee Police Department. Cornwell reiterated Monday that he would file a countersuit if Winston is sued.

But any effects from lawsuits would likely come after Winston's playing career at FSU is over. The redshirt sophomore is eligible to declare for the NFL draft after the season and is considered a top-10 pick.

Winston returned to the football field Monday as the undefeated Seminoles prepare for the college football semifinal against No. 2 Oregon on New Year's Day.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told reporters in Tallahassee that the news came as a relief and that he was happy for Winston and his family.

"There was a lot of scrutiny on it, but I am glad it is over with," said Fisher, according to 247Sports. "Move on."

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.