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As two Florida State football players faced a code of conduct hearing Tuesday for observing a sexual encounter between Jameis Winston and a woman who said the quarterback raped her, the Heisman Trophy winner was noticeably absent.

The woman was there for a hearing in which the two players, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, faced five violations of the student code of conduct related to the Dec. 7, 2012, encounter between Winston and the woman.

Winston, a relief pitcher for the baseball team, was in North Carolina, where the Seminoles are participating in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament this week, sports information director Jason Leturmy confirmed.

John Clune, a high-profile Title IX attorney for the woman, released a statement Tuesday that said in part: "Although we were told by the school that Mr. Winston would be called as a witness, he did not show for the hearing and no further explanation was given. Under the student code of conduct, the school has 10 days to reach a decision."

Attorney Tim Jansen, who represented Winston during the criminal investigation, could not immediately be reached by USA TODAY Sports. He told the Tallahassee Democrat that he and Winston were not notified of or requested to attend the hearing.

Said Adam Ellis, Casher's attorney: "All I can tell you is that he was listed as a witness and we did take a brief break during the process for them to go outside and see if he was in the lobby. I think they expected him there, but he was not."

Winston was not charged criminally, but Florida State is under investigation by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights for its handling of sexual assault cases. The woman filed a complaint in March.

Under Title IX, schools are required to investigate complaints of sexual assault regardless of any criminal investigation.

Winston, who has said through his attorney that the sex was consensual, does not face any code of conduct charges from FSU. School officials did not speak to him about the incident until January, two weeks after the Heisman Trophy winner led the Seminoles to the Bowl Championship Series national title.

According to attorneys for the woman, Winston did not cooperate with questioning. Florida State cited that as a reason for not pursuing the investigation further.

Casher and Darby each were charged with conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for another person and acts that invade the privacy of another person. Casher also is charged with recording images without consent.

The hearing body will determine if Casher and Darby are responsible based on a preponderance of evidence. If found responsible, they face discipline ranging from a letter of reprimand to expulsion from school. Both players and the woman have the right to appeal any decision.


May 21, 2014


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