A controversy that Florida would love nothing more than to go away continues on unabated.
Eyebrows were significantly raised last week when it was reported that a former UF student-athlete and current football booster had been assigned to oversee the Title IX hearing involving current UF wide receiver Antonio Callaway and former UF quarterback Treon Harris, both of whom were accused in January by a woman of sexually assaulting her this past December. The alleged victim, as well as her parents and potential witnesses on her behalf, boycotted the hearing scheduled for last Friday because of what they perceived as a conflict of interest.
The attorney for the alleged victim, who didn’t report the alleged assault to either university or Gainesville police, stated in a letter to state’s attorney Bill Cervone that “[o]ne of the main reasons why my client did not report to law enforcement is that she was informed that you are loathe to prosecute a sexual assault against a Gator football player and now you have loudly confirmed just that.” Monday, Cervone attempted to explain to both ESPN.com…
I had a conversation with officers at the university to see whether it was going to come this way,” said Cervone, who said his office never fully investigated the allegations. “Based on what I knew then, I didn’t think there was even a remote possibility of criminal charges. It would have been totally unprosecutable based on the facts given to me. It would have never risen to sexual assault or sexual battery.
… and the Orlando Sentinel…
I was told no at that point there was no likelihood of any case being brought to us,” Cervone told the Orlando Sentinel Monday. “Based on my memory of our discussions at that point in time, that did not surprise me at all.
“I was never told anything that would make me think there was a prosecutable claim of sexual assault or sexual battery or anything along those lines.
… why charges were never filed in the alleged incident.
John Clune, the alleged victim’s attorney, labeled Cervone’s comments as an “inappropriate and unethical abuse of your position.” In response, Callaway’s lawyer, Huntley Johnson, labeled Clune’s comments as “an attempt at intimidation.”
Callaway had been suspended not only from the team but from the university since late January for a violation of the Student Conduct Code, later known to involve an alleged sexual assault. In March, Johnson, a lawyer well-known in and around Gainesville as the go-to attorney for Gator student-athletes who run into legal issues, issued a statement in which he claimed that the allegation against his non-client “has no merit.”
Johnson released a statement in early June in which he stated that a modified suspension would permit his client to attend classes on campus as well as allow him to use the football team’s practice facilities. A handful of days ago, UF confirmed that Callaway will be permitted to practice with the Gators as they await the results of the hearing, which proceeded without the accuser and her witnesses.