Florida Gators redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey was arrested and charged with aggravated stalking by Gainesville Police early Tuesday morning.
According to the police report, Rainey contacted a local woman he had been dating sporadically for approximately three years and allegedly visited her home when she did not answer a phone call. When she did not come to the door immediately, Rainey began calling and texting her, eventually allegedly saying, “I’m here and I will bust out the window.” After speaking to him for about 10 minutes, she asked him to leave, later receiving a text message from Rainey which read, “Time to die, b—h.”
Fearing for her sibling’s safety, the woman’s sister called the police, who instructed her to call Rainey to tell him that the officers wished to speak with him. Upon receiving that call, Rainey allegedly told the woman, “Wait and see what happens when they leave.” He was subsequently arrested when officers visited his on-campus residence.
Rainey, charged with a third-degree felony, admitted to sending the text message but not to making the latter statement. After spending the night in jail, he was released on his own recognizance by Alachua County Judge Denise R. Ferrero just before 11 a.m. with a warning not to contact the woman. Ferrero also ordered Rainey to maintain a curfew of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. with an exception for school or work.
“I don’t think this is a felony for sure,” Rainey’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, told the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday afternoon. “I think that we can come to a resolution that will minimize any long term consequences for Mr. Rainey. I don’t think the lady was ever in any danger, and I know Mr. Rainey and I think he’s a hell of a nice young man and I assure you that he would never hurt this woman.”
“It’s not near as bad as it looks,” Johnson said separately to the Palm Beach Post. “I think that this is going to end up being a minor bump in the road for Chris. In the long run, it would be appropriate, based on what I know, for him to be back on the team at some point this season. I’d be surprised if he’s not. I think it means an awful lot to him to be a student at Florida and it means a hell of a lot to be a player. He’s still a student at Florida, but he’s not on the team, so he has mixed feelings.”
Johnson also spoke to the Associated Press about Rainey, calling him a “terrific kid who works his rear end off” both academically and athletically. “My early sense is this will be something less than a third-degree felony,” he said. “I think this will turn out to be what I think this is, which is something minor. I don’t think that the statute was intended for this kind of thing. […] I think this is something that will pass. He never intended for this to happen nor would he ever hurt this woman. He cares deeply about this woman. He didn’t handle it like he should have. He knows that. Hopefully this will end up being a bump in the road.”
In court on Tuesday, the woman said she neither feared for her safety nor intended to have Rainey arrested when she called the police. “We just needed someone to diffuse the situation. I did not want to have him arrested last night. When the police came, I signed papers to not press any charges,” she said. “I don’t fear for my safety. I think he should be released on his own recognizance. […] People all over the country have been calling my cell phone. I’m not afraid of him. I’m more afraid of all the repercussions.”
Aggravated stalking, as defined by Florida state law, is charged to “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks another person, and makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury of the person.”
Under the Florida statute, a third-degree felony aggravated battery charge carries with it a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine (plus court costs).
Tuesday afternoon, Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio spoke about the player’s status. “Chris Rainey is not a part of our team right now,” Addazio said.
OGGOA will continue updating this story. Last update: 7:45 p.m.