The University of Florida is under a federal investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for the way it handled a 2015 sexual assault investigation involving a star football player.
The on-going investigation is centered around a sexual assault case involving Gators football player, Antonio Callaway, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Callaway, was accused of sexual assault in December of 2015. He was initially suspended from the team, but later cleared by the university. Criminal charges were never filed.
Controversy surrounded the case after the university appointed an athletics booster and Jacksonville-based attorney, John Schickel, to serve as Callaway’s Title IX hearing officer. The accuser’s attorney was concerned with bias, according to documents obtained by First Coast News. Schickel denied that alleged bias.
According to the federal Title IX law, schools must look into claims of discrimination, including claims of sexual assault. If a school doesn’t comply with the law, the school could lose out on federal money. According to the letter sent to UF by the Department of Education, an active investigation doesn’t mean a university has done anything wrong.
Documents obtained by First Coast News detail the scope of the investigation into alleged Title IX violations (documents at end of article). The investigation is seeking answers as to “whether the University failed to promptly and equitably respond to sexual violence complaints, reports, and/or incidents.”
“We are fully cooperating with the Office of Civil Rights, and I am unable to comment further because of the ongoing investigation,” UF Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs Janine Sikes said in an emailed statement to First Coast News.
Multiple calls and emails to the accuser’s attorney, John Clune, were not returned. Multiple attempts to reach Callaway’s attorney Huntley Johnson were unsuccessful.
First Coast News requested additional information from UF, including their response to the U.S. Department of Education, but UF denied the request citing on-going investigation exemptions.
UF is just one of multiple schools in the state of Florida under a Title IX investigation. Currently, The Chronicle of Higher Education says Florida State, the University of Central Florida, University of South Florida and University of Miami all have open Title IX cases.
FSU settled a Title IX suit over how the school handed rape allegations against star quarterback Jameis Winston with the school paying $950,000 to the alleged victim in the case.
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