Foley ‘furious’ with Florida, Callaway sexual assault allegations ‘un-prosecutable’

By Adam Silverstein
August 8, 2016
Foley ‘furious’ with Florida, Callaway sexual assault allegations ‘un-prosecutable’
Football

Image Credit: ESPNI

Three days after an alleged victim’s attorney took to the media to decry the University of Florida for mishandling his client’s student conduct case regarding an alleged sexual assault committed by Florida Gators sophomore wide receiver Antonio Callaway and former quarterback Treon Harris, some additional details have been released as to the process that took place and why Callaway’s lawyer has been so confident in his client not suffering any serious punishment for the incident.

At issue Friday was Florida’s handling of the alleged victim’s conduct hearing, which she and her family boycotted after UF assigned a Gators booster and former student athlete to preside over the proceedings.

Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples, while correctly noting that the school and not the athletic department was responsible for the assignment and last-second flubbing of what seemed to be months of a seemingly clean investigation, disclosed to the mindset of athletic director Jeremy Foley when he learned of UF’s decision-making.

Florida athletics officials, including athletic director Jeremy Foley, were furious with their university-side counterparts Friday for the way they handled this situation. If not for this, the athletic department could have explained any outcome with this: The university has handled this from the start. Here are all the steps that were taken. This was all by the book. Now no one will believe that, even if it was handled exactly by the book. The school has placed the athletic department in a no-win situation. No matter what actually happened, this makes it appear as if the entire case was rigged to favor athletics. The Gators wind up the bad guys no matter the outcome.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, who broke Friday’s story about the Callaway/Harris case, provided additional insight into the investigation and facts of the case on Monday through a conversation with Florida state attorney Bill Cervone.

Cervone told Schlabach he spoke with university police about the incident to determine whether state charges should be brought against Callaway and Harris. Though the alleged victim did not report the incident to either university or Gainesville, Florida, police, Cervone was able to obtain the facts of the case and found them weak, at best.

“I had a conversation with officers at the university to see whether it was going to come this way,” Cervone told ESPN. “Based on what I knew then, I didn’t think there was even a remote possibility of criminal charges. It would have been totally un-prosecutable based on the facts given to me. It would have never risen to sexual assault or sexual battery.”

Callaway and Harris were suspended for the entire spring and Summer A semesters with both players reinstated to go to class on campus and participate in team activities beginning in Summer B. Callaway has rejoined practice with the team, while Harris announced his transfer from UF, which ESPN reports was a condition of a “plea” agreement he reached in this incident.

21 Comments

  1. Stephen says:

    First, there is no story on this Callaway non-event. Even our opponent’s fans are not giving this much credence. The only ones bringing this up since Friday are people in the Gator blogosphere who need content.

    More importantly, I learned after talking to someone who had handled a few Title IX hearings that the hearing officer is usually a university employee. So UF did nothing wrong. In fact, it seems UF went out of it’s way to avoid that situation and got an outside adjudicator. Further in Title IX hearings, all parties know who the hearing officer is far in advance of the hearing and have the right to object if they feel the hearing officer is biased. If her attorney waited until three days before the hearing, as is being reported, then his objection was untimely. Even if they felt there was a problem with the hearing officer boycotting the hearing is not the proper legal response. This is pandering to the “Court of Public Opinion” not legal due process and you are falling for it.

    Remember, this is the avenue of recourse chosen by the alleged victim. They KNEW it was to be a University employee to hear the case. So it is more likely than not that it was Clune’s plan all along to wait until the last minute, create a non-issue that would be helped along by all-too-willing reporters desperate for any type of story and take his weak case out of any judicial system and try it in the media where people are guilty before proven innocence.

    • Shane says:

      This story is being followed far outside of GatorNation. I listen to nationally broadcasted college sports nation on SiriusXM and this story was covered / is being covered every day since the ESPN reporter broke the story. Foley is spot on with his frustration. The administration screwed this up after so many worked so hard to manage it ethically and professionally. The merit of this case has nothing to do with how it was handled during the final stages. The mishandling has now cast a shadow of doubt on Callaway/Harris and the university. With all of the attention on this topic in recent months/years, this “oversight” falls into the category of incompetence. As a UF graduate, I’m embarrassed.

  2. Tractorr says:

    This provides evidence to a theory I have had. My thought on the subject is that the athletic department was hands off and let the university take the lead on this situation. I would like to know if the university was even aware that he was a donor to the UAA? Those are two separate entities so I doubt someone who handles student adjudication is aware about anyone’s donations to the UAA. It seems likely that Jake Schickel had handled other cases like this before considering that previous experience is one of the Federal criteria. Sure, they would have known that he was an alum, but that alone should not disqualify someone. If this theory is true, I have a hard time believing this was some master plan. In fact, this doesn’t even seem like a case of careless. The university simply asked one of their alums who has demonstrated his impartiality in the past to serve as the adjudicator. Not to throw Schickel under the bus but he probably should have informed the university that he was a UAA donor. Considering that the money he donated is really part of the purchase price of his tickets, he probably doesn’t even think of himself as a donor.

    • There is credence to a lot of what you say. Where I disagree is with the “did the university even know” assertion. If they didn’t know, it means they aren’t vetting their hearing officers. If they did know, they were careless in choosing him. He’s not just a ticket holder/booster, he’s a former athlete. It doesn’t look good. They should know better. They could have done a 99.9% perfect job on this investigation, but they messed this up.

      • Tractorr says:

        I would agree if they selected him specifically for this case and didn’t vet him further. If he had worked as an adjudicator for the school in the past, then he was likely vetted but it probably wasn’t for things like a low level donation to the UAA which isn’t really a donation but a requirement to buy tickets. He is a practicing member of the Florida Bar. That alone should be 99% of the vetting process. This would be a different story if he was a Bull Gator where every member of the UAA knew him by name.

        • It doesn’t matter whether he was chosen specifically for the case or not. When the attorney raises that notion, you do what you can to make it as fair as possible. The goal is not “oh UF could have done better” it’s “UF did the best they possibly could.” That goes for any school or court of law in regards to sexual assault.

  3. Chris D says:

    Nice quote from the Florida law graduate and adjunct professor, who happens to be the state Attorney…shocking!!

  4. mark says:

    Somewhere a girl – your child, sister, or niece – had something happen to her. Real or imagined, it was serious enough to her and her family to make a complaint with UF.

    We don’t know much until now. The family hires a lawyer for any # of reasons. Throughout we are told the child/woman want to stay at UF.

    Football is on everyone’s radar. Don’t give me the ‘but precedent” bullshit. It’s Treon#s 2nd allegation, and he LEAVES UF as part of a plea agreement.

    So you know what? Day 3, he’ll a.m. of hearing, if the victim wants someone else, you find someone else

    Because it’s UF. Not F$U. And you privately raise hell.because in court you get to remove jurors. Because if a judge might have a real bias, you seek another judge. Might not get one, but you ask.

    Because it’s UF you take the high ground. You don’t cite procedure and wield it like a hammer.

    Because this isn’t a BB gun incident. Or a parking ticket.

    Because it’s UF. And if others seek a recusal, so be it. Every case is not the same. I learned that BEFORE law school.

    AND now UF is lumped into the other schools. And men everywhere pile on to the victim, her family, her counsel.don’t believe?
    22 pages of threads on gatorcountry. Read the comments

    Because it’s UF you give them another officer

    Sometimes the best way out of a hole is to stop digging.

    Because you are UF STOP DIGGING

      • Richard says:

        wrong, the player has rights to, if everyone had the same rights all the records would be made public. The accussed has had his character attacked and was suspended from school. States attorney said not enough evidence to even consider prosecution. Release all the evidence obtained. If she was a liar (Duke Lacrosse case?) than she should be exposed. All that matters are the facts, not what biased ESPN says. Foley needs to get over it, he has a stench left over him from Urban Meyer, don’t take it out on Callaway, apparently the victim in this case.

        • I never said the player didn’t have rights to[o].

          This is a student conduct hearing, not a court of law. Student privacy laws prevent any of this information from being released. What you’re asking for is not going to happen.

          What you’re missing is that UF dropped the ball here right at the goal line. No matter how good of a job they did on this, 99 percent of the way, they messed up by allowing this guy to preside over the hearing — plain and simple.

          • Rich says:

            Even if it is a student conduct hearing, if the facts show the accuser is lying, than it should be made known. I don’t believe they dropped the ball, Callaway has had his reputation tarnished, he was suspended, there is a lot of evidence collected, to prevent this from happening again it should be released, whining about who presides over the case is non-sense, if you think the person assigned lacks character or has a conflict then say so, college campuses have got to get into the real world, not an area of make believe with safe zones for apparent liars.

        • Go Canes says:

          “States attorney said not enough evidence to even consider prosecution”, umm, he said that based on a phone conversation in January with someone at UPD that had not even investigated the case. And that State Attorney is famous for not charging Gator players, even when the evidence is overwhelming. Look up “Bill Cervone drops charges” and you get “About 71,600 results (0.69 seconds)” mostly about football and basketball players for UF.

          • Bill Cervone has charged plenty of Florida players with crimes, including ludicrous ones like simple assault for throwing a sub sandwich at a Jimmy Johns. He has no history of throwing out charges any different than state attorneys in other districts.

    • Ed says:

      So just how long did her Attorney know who was going to be hearing the case? The waiting till 2 days before or less and then playing it in the media is my biggest problem. If they had just found out the week before then he had a legit right to complain and take it to the media but other wise he should have brought his concerns when he was informed of who was hearing the case.

  5. Oldflyer says:

    When favorite ballers (no pun) are involved, many sports fans are quick to say that girls are compromised if they don’t go to the police. It would be interesting to know what girls are told by Universities these days. Unquestionably, going to the police, and through the justice system can add trauma to trauma. So, are they encouraged to keep it “in house” and keep the whole process less public and trust the school to do right? I don’t know.

    I think the culture currently encourages girls to put themselves in risky situations; because they have as much right to act irresponsibly as boys do. Right? The difference is that they become vulnerable in different ways.

    I told my beautiful granddaughter before she went to college that there are predators in this world. She definitely is not a predator, so she should never let herself get into the position where she could be prey. She should always be aware of her environment, and what kind of people occupy it; especially if there is drinking or other imbibing in progress. Since she is a non-drinking, non-doping athlete, I don’t think she will let herself become compromised.

  6. Michael Jones says:

    Foley is right. We blew it, big time. A no-win situation. I’m a Gator alum and like the Gator alum above I am embarrassed. How can we criticize FSU or any other institution’s handling of a sexual assault after this embarrassment?

    Sometimes appearances matter and this is one of those times. It’s not whether Schickel would be fair. For all we know he would, but it’s looks bad. This is a Ceasar’s Wife situation. We should have been beyond reproach. We COULD have been beyond reproach. . it would have been easy. But instead of fixing what never should have happened in the first place, we dug in. Now we look sleazy, arrogant, and indifferent to the rights of an alleged sexual assault victim; an institution that places winning football games over an impartial adjudication of a rape claim, and it didn’t have to go down that way.

    • Rich says:

      Michael, you are idiot. all that matters are the facts. The accused also has rights instead of being subject to what is apparently false allegations, per the states attorney. Release all the evidence, including the texts and other testimony. That is all that matters, not how “things look” to the public. She is an “alleged sexual assault victim” but doesn’t appear to have substance to her allegations (Duke Lacrosse Case come to mind). Don’t cast judgment unless you know the facts and don’t show your wacko bias that because he is a football player he is guilty. If Antonio Callaway was your son or brother how would you feel. Only an idiot would claim, without any facts, that someone is that the institution is putting winning football games over an impartial adjudication. If her allegations are false and without merit, than she should be held accountable and to public ridicule.

      • I’m all for disagreements and stuff but let’s not call other posters “idiots.” Thanks.

      • Michael Jones says:

        LOL. Anyone reading your response would have to chuckle at the irony of you calling anyone else an idiot. You either didn’t read what I wrote or you’re not capable of understanding what I wrote.

        I’m not suggesting that Callaway did anything wrong. Heck, I have no idea what happened. My hope is that the girl DID NOT get assaulted and that Callaway is NOT guilty. My point is that UF–my alma mater and the school that I love–should not have appointed a football booster to adjudicate the Student Conduct hearing. Simple as that. Certainly both the accused and the alleged victim are entitled to fair treatment and their day in court.

        You might want to think about reading a comment before you respond to it. Or just continue to bluster about in a manner that, ironically, fits the word you use to criticize others.

  7. Go Canes says:

    “I’m not suggesting that Callaway did anything wrong. Heck, I have no idea what happened. My hope is that the girl DID NOT get assaulted and that Callaway is NOT guilty. My point is that UF–my alma mater and the school that I love–should not have appointed a football booster to adjudicate the Student Conduct hearing. Simple as that.”
    I am not a UF fan, and I feel the same way.
    This IS a fumble at the one yard line.
    Fans that assume the girl is lying, from FSU or UF, are in the wrong.
    Fans that assume the guy is lying, from FSU or UF, are in the wrong.

    Had they gotten someone from Wake Forest, like FSU did, this would be a non-story. But getting a guy that gives over 7K a year at LEAST to cheer on the teams is not the guy that will be considered nonbiased.

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