GAINESVILLE — The sexual assault allegation that has shaken the Florida football program started with a group of students celebrating a victory.
Treon Harris, the freshman quarterback who had helped engineer the win over Tennessee on Saturday, joined the group, which included male and female athletes, after returning with the football team from Knoxville.
When the party broke up early Sunday morning, Harris told the students he celebrated with that he would make sure an 18-year-old woman got home safely, multiple people familiar with the eyewitness accounts told the Tampa Bay Times.
The sexual encounter between Harris and the woman that followed is in dispute.
She told the University Police Department and others it was sexual assault. Harris' attorney Huntley Johnson, has not commented on what, if anything, Harris told him, but said he is cooperating with the investigation. Johnson said he would be surprised if Harris were arrested.
Harris, 18, has not been charged in an investigation by university police, who are being assisted with forensics and analysis by the Gainesville PD.
He has been suspended indefinitely from the football team.
Harris and the other students were celebrating a 10-9 victory over rival Tennessee. Harris had entered the Saturday afternoon game in the third quarter and rallied the team from a 9-0 deficit. After the game, many speculated the 5-foot-11, 190-pound freshman from Miami would replace junior Jeff Driskel as the starter this weekend.
Harris and the female student, also a freshman, spent part of Saturday night together. The group met up at a local night club. The students, some of whom had been drinking, later left the club and went in a caravan of two to three cars to get something to eat, before some of the group returned to the Springs Residential Complex, a group of on-campus apartments.
According to those familiar with the witness accounts, the woman said Harris sexually assaulted her after they arrived at the Springs, where they both live. Those familiar with the investigation said evidence was collected from Harris' room.
"We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus," president Bernie Machen said in a statement. "The university is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for every member of the UF community. We must strive to protect all of our students from sexual harassment and assault, and do everything in our power to promote a safe learning environment."