An attorney for the accuser of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston left some scorched Earth behind the FSU code-of-conduct hearing that cleared the former Heisman Trophy winner of four charges related to a sexual assault allegation.
"I don't want to impugn the proceeding as corrupt, but I think it was biased and the fix was in," attorney Baine Kerr told The Associated Press. "It's all about a football game 10 days from today. It turned out to be just a predetermined whitewash to keep a guy playing football."
Translation: I don't want to impugn the proceeding as corrupt, but the proceeding was corrupt.
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding issued the ruling, indicating that neither Winston's side of the story nor the accuser's was more credible than the other. The burden of proof, however, fell on the accuser.
"I find that the evidence before me is insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof," Harding said.
Gregory W. Coleman, president of the Florida Bar, defended Harding in a statement posted to the Florida Bar website Tuesday. Coleman called Kerr's comments "too outrageous for me to ignore."
"Major Harding, a former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court who presided over the FSU code of conduct hearing, is one of the most highly respected lawyers in Florida and in the United States," Coleman's statement read. "To say that he is anything but thoroughly unbiased and of the highest integrity is unacceptable.
"I have known Harding for nearly 20 years. His reputation and integrity are beyond question and thousands of lawyers would agree. FSU President John Thrasher's recognition of Harding for conducting a thorough hearing was on target. Kerr's comments were completely off-base and irresponsible."
An unfavorable ruling for Winston could have jeopardized his football eligibility. Winston, 26-0 as a starter in two seasons at FSU, is preparing for a College Football Playoff against Oregon in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. The winner will face either Ohio State or Alabama for the national championship, potentially Winston's final games as a Seminole. He is considering whether to leave FSU for the 2015 NFL Draft as a third-year sophomore. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said last week that he expects Winston would be one of the draft's top two picks.
Harding's ruling clears the way for Winston to prepare for the Oregon game with the weight of the hearing lifted. Added Kerr: "The proper forum to getting to the truth is going to be the court of law, not, essentially, a sham court like this one turned out to be."
Not to impugn the proceeding, of course.