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A retired Florida supreme court justice says Jameis Winston did not violate Florida State's code of conduct and has cleared the Seminoles quarterback of all charges.
Major Harding, who conducted the hearing which stemmed from a two-year-old sexual assault claim, said in a letter to Winston, “the evidence must show that it is more probable than not that you are responsible for the charged violations. After a thorough review, the evidence before me does not satisfy this threshold and, therefore, you are not responsible for the aforementioned charged violations.”
The decision was confirmed on Sunday after Winston’s attorney leaked a portion of Harding’s letter, which was then obtained by various media outlets. The hearing was Dec. 2-3.
Harding said he did not find the “credibility of one story substantially stronger than the other.”
Winston had a sexual encounter at his off-campus apartment in December 2012 that his accuser, an FSU student at the time, claimed was rape. Winston faced four potential violations at the hearing: A sex act that occurs without consent or when the victim cannot give consent; intimidating or hostile conduct of a sexual nature; physical violence; actions that endanger the health or safety of someone else.
Winston, a third-year sophomore, now can prepare for the College Football Playoff without the threat of being suspended or expelled from the university. Florida State plays Oregon on Jan. 1 in the semifinal game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
John Clune, one of the accuser’s Colorado-based attorneys, released a statement Sunday saying they are “stunned and dismayed,” and characterized the ruling as a “statement that the judge couldn’t decide.”
Clune asserted that Harding “ignored” the bulk of the evidence.
“We will consider an appeal but right now we feel a little duped,” he wrote.
Harding’s decision does not mean this case – which has been investigated by the Tallahassee Police Department, State Attorney Willie Meggs’ office and now the university – is closed. The woman is allowed to appeal the decision within five class days. She also can sue Winston in civil court, although Michael McCann, a legal analyst for Sports Illustrated, said in a tweet that Winston winning the hearing “is very positive legal sign for him should accuser sue him.”
The incident first was investigated by the TPD and then the district attorney’s office, which conducted a three-week investigation in November 2013 before deciding not to charge Winston.
Although FSU would not confirm or deny that Winston has been cleared, university president John Thrasher released a statement Sunday saying that Harding was selected because he is a “highly qualified and respected jurist” and “to remove any doubt about the integrity of this process and the result.”
Thrasher went on to say that Harding “conducted a thorough Student Conduct Code hearing and reviewed more than 1,000 pages of evidence generated by three other investigations.”
Winston has maintained his innocence throughout the process and he was staunchly supported by FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, who repeatedly expressed his confidence that Winston would be cleared each step of the way.
Winston, though, was losing the battle of public opinion following a series of missteps in the last nine months. Those included being cited for walking out of a Tallahassee grocery store without paying for $32 worth of crab legs in the spring, and yelling a vulgar phrase demeaning to women while in a crowded courtyard on campus, an act that got him suspended for the Sept. 20 game against Clemson.
Florida State has survived the season undefeated, despite Winston’s numbers slipping from his Heisman Trophy winning 2013 season. Winston, who finished sixth in the 2014 Heisman voting, is 26-0 as a starter and FSU, which has won 29 consecutive games, is two wins from a second consecutive national title.
The winner of FSU’s semifinal game against Oregon will play in the Jan. 12 national championship game in Arlington, Texas, against either Alabama or Ohio State.
Win or lose, Winston is expected to declare for the NFL draft. And although some are projecting that he will be the second player selected, others believe Winston’s off-field troubles could cause him to slip.
Fisher was expected to talk to Winston about his plans before FSU breaks for the holidays. The Seminoles’ final practice in Tallahassee is Monday. The team departs for California on Friday.
“Jameis loves college football but I think he’s going to be one of the top two players drafted,” Fisher said last week. “He’s got to make a choice. He’s got to see what he wants to do. It would not shock me either way. I understand if he wants to go when a guy is (projected to be drafted) that high.”Mon, 22 Dec 2014 03:07:17 -0500
As the U.S. wrestles with how to respond to the cyberattack on Sony Pictures, CNN aired a taped interview with President Barack Obama on Sunday where the commander-in-chief said he did not consider the hack an act of war.
"I don't think it was an act of war," Obama told CNN's Candy Crowley. "It was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionally."
Just what that proportional response could be is still unclear; after all, there's no precedent for this kind of situation.
U.S. officials have come out and said they believe North Korea to be behind the attack on Sony. (Video viaEuronews)
The Wall Street Journal spoke with security officials who said there are directives in place to protect critical infrastructure, such as the power grid, from cyber attacks.
But the concept of a private company, much less an entertainment company, being the subject of such an attack from an outside government over a satirical film is not something officials foresaw. (Video via Sony Pictures Entertainment / "The Interview")
Making things even more complicated are the differing opinions in Washington on the political significance of the attack.
Senator John McCain went on CNN not long after Obama and called the Sony hack "a manifestation of a new form of warfare," further elaborating, "When you destroy economies, when you are able to impose censorship on the world and especially the United States of America, it's more than vandalism."
It's also hard to define what constitutes an act of cyberwar. A NATO manual defines it as, "a cyber operation, whether offensive or defensive, that is reasonably expected to cause injury or death to persons or damage or destruction to objects."
Seeing as no person or structure was physically damaged, the Sony hack would not fall under that definition. But it's hard to argue that the hack will not significantly hurt Sony's business. So what would a "proportional response" from the U.S. entail?
One idea that has been tossed around is launching a counter-hack, possibly with the help of China. China has longstanding ties to North Korea and much of North Korea's telecommunications systems run through Chinese-operated networks. (Video via Arirang News)
An official told The New York Times, "What we are looking for is a blocking action, something that would cripple their efforts to carry out attacks." But that has the potential to escalate things even further.
There is also the option of designating North Korea as a terrorist sponsor. A former NSA research scientist told Business Insider doing so would, "set in motion a wider range of legal authority, U.S. government/military resources, and international options."
The country was designated a terrorist sponsor until 2008, so this isn't exactly a game-changer. It would also put a damper on any potential diplomatic relations, especially those regarding North Korea's controversial nuclear program. (Video via ODN)
Another option is to increase the economic sanctions put on the country. The Daily Beast says those sanctions were "crippling" to North Korea when they were last used by the Bush administration a decade ago.
North Korea flat out denies it had anything to with the attack and instead accuses the U.S. government of being behind the making of "The Interview," the movie that is believed to be the motivation for the hack.
This video includes images from Getty Images and Keith Martin / CC By NC SA 2.0.Mon, 22 Dec 2014 02:15:23 -0500
Hours after two NYPD officers were ambushed and shot dead in their squad car, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio condemned anti-police violence as reprehensible.
The mayor said, "When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society."
But on the way to the podium, de Blasio was met with a brief show of resistance from the officers he was about to support. Video from the New York Post shows NYPD cops turning their back on the mayor as he passed by them in the hallway.
It's a small symbol of the backlash that's broken out against de Blasio after Saturday's shooting, which has thrown the already-tense relationship between the mayor's office and the NYPD into turmoil.
Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were fatally shot while sitting in their squad car in Brooklyn. Police say the suspect previously posted angry social media rants, some of which centered on the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner by police.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters, "What we're seeing from this right now is anger against the government. ... There's others with talks of anger at the police, he specifically mentions Michael Brown and Eric Garner."
Now many New Yorkers are voicing anger at the mayor for partially supporting the protests, ranging from police unions, like union leader Pat Lynch who said, "There's blood on many hands tonight ... on the steps of city hall, in the office of the mayor."
To former police commissioner Ray Kelly, who told ABC, "Quite frankly, the mayor ran an anti-police campaign last year when he ran for mayor."
To ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani, who told Fox News, "This is not the time to say there is blood on his hands ... it is the right time to talk about his policies, however. His policies of allowing the protests to get out of control."
Most of the acrimony stems from de Blasio's refusal to crack down on the protests condemning the NYPD for the choking death of Eric Garner. The progressive mayor has been trying to walk a fine line, expressing sympathy for the protesters while still supporting the police.
But tensions between de Blasio and the police force existed even before the mayor took office. In his campaign, de Blasio promised to end the controversial stop-and-frisk police tactic, which had many defenders among the NYPD.
The mayor's office has also scrapped with the police unions over labor contracts in the past, more so than with the city's workforce unions.
The NYPD is still investigating the double homicide. A police spokesman says the NYPD is combing through the suspect's social media accounts and has recovered five videos and ten eyewitnesses from the scene.
This video includes images from Getty Images.Mon, 22 Dec 2014 01:25:55 -0500 News Source: MedleyStory More Local News Stories