Gainesville- The Florida Gators football team opened their fall practice schedule on Thursday. We are supposed to be talking about how good the freshmen wide receivers look and about the quarterback competition taking place between Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby.
But earlier today ESPN dropped a story about the allegations that sophomore wide receiver Antonio Callaway and former quarterback Treon Harris face. According to the report the two players are suspended for an early December 2015 sexual assault.
Callaway’s attorney Huntley Johnson has responded to the victim’s attorney’s claims in the ESPN report.
“We have read what the complaintant’s attorney has released to the press.
We consider his actions inappropriate and an attempt at intimidation.
Since the complaintant’s attorney has chosen to go to the press in this matter, we assume that he will be releasing the hundreds of pages that made up the University of Florida’s investigation. We assume that he will be releasing the sworn affidavits in this case. We assume that he will be releasing the complaintant’s text messages in the investigation. We assume that he will be releasing the complaintant’s multitude of varying and conflicting stories.
We are not going to besmirch his client in the press. The totality of the investigation which is over one thousand pages will do that for us.
Our client has asked us not to release anything at this point. Because of the conduct of the complaintant’s attorney, that may change in the future.
Johnson appears to be very confident that the resolution of this case will be in favor of the football player. In a March 11 press release Johnson stated, “There is no good reason why this investigation has not been closed. This allegation has no merit.”
The University of Florida also responded today. Janine Sikes, the vice president of UF media relations and public affairs wrote an email to SECCountry.com:
“The University of Florida is prohibited to comment on the existence or substance of student disciplinary matters under state and federal law. However, I can tell you that our student conduct process may be handled by a hearing officer, who could be a university employee or an outside professional, or by a committee of faculty and students.
Any hearing officer and all committee members are trained and vetted for their impartiality. A hearing officer or committee member would not be disqualified simply because he or she had been a student athlete decades earlier or purchase atheltic tickets as more than 90,000 people do each year.”
Sikes is responding directly to the argument made by the victim’s attorney that a prominent Gators football booster is presiding the Title IX hearing, which the victim is protesting.
Callaway has been suspended since January and only recently has been permitted back on campus and is eligible to work out with his teammates at the football facilities, however he has not been cleared to play in the opener.