Thursday, June 21, 2018
Colleges

Title IX sexual assault investigation finds Florida WR Antonio Callaway not responsible

Months of uncertainty surrounding University of Florida star receiver Antonio Callaway appeared to come to a close Friday.

A Title IX hearing officer cleared Callaway of three university code of conduct charges related to a sexual assault investigation that began in January. The third-party hearing officer, Jacksonville lawyer and Gators booster Jake Schickel, ruled that Callaway was not responsible for sexual assault, sexual misconduct or conduct causing physical injury during a December encounter at Callaway's residence.

Schickel's four-page ruling effectively allows the Gators' top offensive talent to remain on the field and provides the first public outline of the incident.

The complainant's statements said she did not consent to the sexual intercourse "because of intoxication and/or force." But Schickel wrote that the evidence showed she was not "intoxicated to the extent she could not consent" and that she admitted in text messages that she was pretending to be drunk. Schickel found no evidence of injuries and wrote that some of the woman's other text messages were inconsistent.

Callaway said the woman was "the aggressor" in the situation because he was high on marijuana and "so stoned I had no interest in having sex with anyone," according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. Schickel did not hear Callaway's counter complaint because that investigation is ongoing.

"This decision by the hearing officer reflects only a fraction of the evidence, which is not favorable to the complainant," Callaway's attorney, Huntley Johnson, said in a statement. "The young lady's adviser has said, 'They will take their witnesses and go elsewhere.' They need to be careful what they wish for."

The complainant's attorney, John Clune, said his client will probably not continue to pursue the case, either by appealing UF's ruling or through a lawsuit.

The complainant boycotted last week's hearing because Schickel is a football booster, which Clune said gave an appearance of bias to a case involving a high-profile football player. Clune said the woman "has lost all faith in the university" and is still deciding whether to return to UF this fall. The Times typically does not name victims or possible victims of sexual assault.

"It wasn't exactly a news flash that Mr. Callaway was going to be found not responsible," Clune said. "It just seems like this whole situation, ever since we found out they were having a booster hear the case, is a disgrace, and it's a disservice to everybody who is involved in this process."

The federal gender-equity law Title IX requires universities to investigate allegations of sexual assault even if there is no criminal complaint. Clune informed the State Attorney's Office that the woman did not report the incident to police in part because she believed the prosecutor would not bring charges against a Gators football player.

In Friday's letter, Schickel detailed his experience prosecuting rape cases and said he did not believe his ruling would be biased. UF defended its practices Friday in a written statement but said it could not comment on specific cases because of student-privacy laws.

"Be assured that any situation of this serious nature reported to the university is immediately addressed following Title IX regulations, U.S. Department of Education guidelines and university policies," UF said in a statement released by communications director Margot Winick.

"These policies and practices support those who report sexual misconduct of any kind and ensure a fair investigation and process for the accuser and the accused beginning with the initial report and through any appeal."

UF initially suspended Callaway in January while it investigated the complaint against the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Miami native. Callaway missed all of spring practice before the school modified his suspension in June to allow him to return to campus and team workouts. He has participated in the team's fall camp.

A UF athletics department spokesman deferred comment to the university. Players are typically not suspended after their first positive marijuana test, according to the department's policy.

Callaway was the Gators' most explosive offensive player last season and the hero of their comeback win over Tennessee. He led the team with 1,211 all-purpose yards, and his 678 receiving yards set a school freshman record.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Comments
Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

Florida State will host Florida Gators to open this basketball season

For the first time in almost two decades, Florida and Florida State will open the men's basketball season against each other.The Seminoles will host UF on Nov. 6, both programs announced Wednesday morning. FSU has won four in a row in the series."Any...
Published: 06/20/18
With starting QB Josh Jackson’s status resolved, FSU will open against full-strength Hokies

With starting QB Josh Jackson’s status resolved, FSU will open against full-strength Hokies

Florida State's primetime opener against Virginia Tech looks a little tougher now than it did a few days ago.Hokies starting quarterback Josh Jackson has had his academic eligibility resolved and remains on the team, the Roanoke Times reported Tuesda...
Published: 06/19/18
As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

USF's expanded partnership with Yuengling — including naming rights to the Sun Dome — is only the latest part in an evolving relationship between college sports and alcohol, as my colleague, Joey Knight, wrote on the front page ...
Published: 06/18/18
Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida pitcher Brady Singer has won the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year.Singer, who received the award Friday, carries a 12-1 record and 2.30 ERA into the College World Series, which begins Saturday. T...
Published: 06/15/18
Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rex Culpepper is back. The smile on his face said it all. The redshirt sophomore quarterback had his first full workout with Syracuse on Friday after overcoming testicular cancer. He said he broke down and cried when he was told he w...
Published: 06/15/18
Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

During his question-and-answer session with more than 500 Manatee-Sarasota boosters Monday evening, FSU's Willie Taggart was peppered with the normal inquiries about recruiting, offensive scheme and the Seminoles' quarterback derby.All well and good....
Published: 06/12/18
When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

It would have been easy — expected, even — for Willie Taggart to be nervous when he started in place of the injured Tommie Frazier as Manatee High's starting quarterback in 1991.Nope. Taggart wasn't, even though he was the first...
Published: 06/12/18
FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

SARASOTA — He slithered and scrambled his way into the local consciousness in the fall of 1991.Manatee High's Willie Taggart, 145 pounds in a sopping jersey, suddenly found himself with the keys to the Hurricanes' ruthlessly efficient opti...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18
Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Former West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler announced Monday that he plans to join the Gators as a graduate transfer.Shuler, a 6-foot-4, 268-pound Longwood native, started 10 games for the Mountaineers last season. As a redshirt sophomore, he ...
Published: 06/11/18
Florida State’s Jessica Warren lives ‘every senior’s dream’ with Women’s College World Series title

Florida State’s Jessica Warren lives ‘every senior’s dream’ with Women’s College World Series title

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jessie Warren’s career finished just the way she envisioned it. On Monday night, Florida State’s star third baseman made perhaps the play of her career, a diving catch and throw for a double play that helped preserve a 1-0 win over Wa...
Updated one month ago