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.