Sports

The Lawyer For A Football Player Accused Of Rape Exposed The Woman’s Name On Twitter

CREDIT: AP

Florida State University on Tuesday set Nov. 17 as the date for quarterback Jameis Winston’s code of conduct hearing that stems from sexual assault allegations made against the Heisman Trophy winner nearly two years ago. After the announcement, Winston’s attorney, David Cornwell, criticized the decision on Twitter, accusing FSU of not giving Winston enough time to properly prepare. And in doing so, he used the name of Winston’s accuser.

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It is standard practice for media outlets, police reports, and attorneys involved in sexual assault and rape cases to avoid names of victims. The Florida State case would seem especially sensitive, given its high-profile nature and the scrutiny his accuser has already faced on campus, online, and in other public forums (multiple students at Florida State told ThinkProgress in September referenced the “victim-shaming” that took place on campus in the wake of the allegations).

This is not the first time Cornwell has used the name of Winston’s accuser publicly. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he has done so “multiple times in the past” because he believes her sexual assault claims “have been proven unfounded by the state attorney’s decision not to pursue charges.”

“Mr. Winston’s lawyer apparently likes to bully people and he has spent great efforts to get her name out there,” John Clune, one of the victim’s attorneys, told the Sentinel. “That kind of intimidation tactic isn’t going to get him very far here.”

Winston was accused of sexual assault in December 2012. A year later, the state attorney’s office decided not to press charges because it believed there was insufficient evidence to secure a conviction. The Tallahassee Police Department and Florida State were widely criticized for their handling of the case. FSU opened its own code of conduct investigation (which is required by federal Title IX law) into the Winston case in January 2014. It re-opened that investigation earlier this year, and the Nov. 17 hearing is part of that process. Winston has maintained that he is innocent.

Major Harding, a former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, will oversee Winston’s code of conduct hearing, which according to an October letter from FSU interim president Garnett Stokes to Winston will examine whether Winston violated any of four sections of the student conduct code. Two of those sections relate to consent of the victim in a sexual act. The ultimate decision on discipline is up to the university’s president and board of trustees.