As we all know by now, Florida receiver Antonio Callaway has been accused of sexual assault last December. He, along with Treon Harris, were barred from campus indefinitely and relegated to taking online courses. It seemed as though Callaway’s situation was nearing closure when Jim McElwain announced that he was cleared to return to practice.
But at the same time, there’s still a lot to be determined about Callaway, and questions are flying every which way. Here are the bare facts:
-A hearing was scheduled for Callaway today at the University of Florida, which was adjudicated by Jacksonville based attorney Jake Schickel.
-Schickel graduated from UF with a BA in political science and then went back to UF to earn his law degree. He was also a member of the track team at Florida, and remains a prominent Gator football and basketball booster.
-Upon realizing that Schickel would adjudicate the hearing, the alleged victim boycotted the hearing, and her lawyer, John Clune, called UF’s decision to use Schickel “flat out one of the worst decisions and the most unexplainable decision I’ve ever seen.” Clune also represented the alleged victim in the Jameis Winston case two years ago.
-Guilty or not, this is the second time Treon Harris has been accused of sexual assault in his two years at Florida. He was alleged to have assaulted a girl a few hours after the Gators’ 2014 win over Tennessee, and was promptly suspended. Harris has since transferred out of Florida.
Of course, that doesn’t answer everything. Here are some of the more common questions that remain without definitive answers:
Q: Did Callaway commit the crimes he’s been accused of?
A: Per two sources, no, he did not. One of the sources wouldn’t elaborate any further, but the other said in an email that “he (Callaway) was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” And as Callaway’s attorney Huntley Johnson said back in March: “This allegation has no merit.”
Q: When will the situation be resolved?
A: Hopefully by the end of next week, but there’s a good chance it will still be dragging on by the time the season starts. The alleged victim boycotting the hearing today can only mean that it’ll take longer to get a resolution.
Q: When will Callaway play in games?
A: My gut feeling is that he’ll be back for Massachusetts, although it really is hard to tell. This hinges on three factors: when the issue gets resolved, whether McElwain decides to play Callaway with the situation still hanging over his head if it isn’t resolved by September 3rd (for what it’s worth, he is allowing him to practice), and whether or not he’s innocent (which again, I’m adamantly told that he is). So here’s my answer: More likely than not- but not for sure- he’ll play against Massachusetts.
Q: What will happen to the girl’s case now that she’s boycotted the hearing?
A: All we really know is that “she’s going to take her claim elsewhere.” Fair or not, though, she didn’t exactly help her case by boycotting the hearing- even though I’ll admit that appointing a guy with deep Gator ties to adjudicate the hearing does raise a red flag. She’s absolutely entitled to a fair hearing, but there’s no factual evidence that Schickel wouldn’t have been fair and unbiased just because he graduated from Florida some 40 years ago. Suggestions that his loyalty to Florida would top his loyalty to justice have been thrown out, and they’re admittedly legitimate ones, but they’re mere suggestions without proof. So whether or not UF was right to appoint Schickel- and I strongly feel as though they were wrong- realistically, this may have been as fair as it could be for her.
Q: What happens next?
A: The answer I’m forced to give, that many of you won’t like, is: wait and see. I really don’t think Callaway is truly guilty of anything that could put him behind bars, because if McElwain thought there was even a chance that he was, he’d be barred from campus. And I know that because Callaway was barred from campus until enough facts came to McElwain’s desk that proved his innocence. If we have a rooting interest in this case, it’s that we root for the truth to prevail. From what I’ve heard, the truth is that Callaway is innocent. But maybe a new piece of evidence emerges later on down the road. And if Callaway really did do something terrible, make no mistake: he should absolutely be imprisoned. So all we can do is wait and see what happens.