The sexual battery complaint against Florida quarterback Treon Harris has been withdrawn, per reports, and a source told Alligator Army that no charges are expected to be filed.
Treon Harris's future
Harris's lawyer, Huntley Johnson, has been adamant that Harris wants to be reinstated at Florida. That reinstatement process, without any criminal complaint against him, is likely to be a matter of when, not if.
Harris is still suspended, but UF released a statement on his status Friday afternoon:
The student who accused Treon Harris of sexual battery has withdrawn her criminal complaint. This means she is not pursuing criminal charges against him at this time but maintains the right to do so in the future.
The police report will be released when it is available.
The UAA will have more information on his football status later in the day.
The university will always take swift and decisive action when we have concerns about the safety of our students.
I believe Harris will be fully reinstated by both Florida and the UAA by the end of the day. Update, 3:45 p.m.: The Gainesville Sun reports that Florida needs to complete a Title IX investigation into the handling of the alleged victim's complaint before clearing Harris, in addition to any possible Student Code of Conduct procedures that need to be completed. I no longer expect Harris to be reinstated today.Update, 4:30 p.m.: Yeah, should've gone with my gut.
But after a week of missing practice, I would have a hard time believing Harris will play for Florida on Saturday against LSU.
After that reinstatement, I do not expect Harris to face any more discipline for Student Code of Conduct violations.
Harris may also have cases for libel against some who published erroneous media reports against him this week. I would not anticipate him filing any such suits: The outlets that made mistakes are not the ones that would have the money necessary to make a civil suit against them fruitful.
Harris's alleged victim's future
Harris's alleged victim withdrawing her complaint has been reported widely and by multiple outlets. And a single source told Alligator Army Friday morning that she had "recanted" her story.
There's enough of a shade of gray between those two possibilities — as UF notes, a withdrawn complaint mostly means the complainant is not pursuing charges at this time, while a story being recanted would go further, possibly to admission of a false report — for many to wonder whether she will be liable for making a false report to police, a misdemeanor of the first degree.
I don't know whether that will happen, and am conflicted on whether it should. I know that the debate over that will be wearying — I've already had it over and over in a hypothetical sense — and I encourage all to treat it with care.
The Gators' future
Harris might very well have been Florida's starting quarterback this weekend against LSU had he been able to practice with the Gators all week. His replacement of Jeff Driskel late against Tennessee helped the Gators storm back from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and Harris's brief stint as Florida's signal-caller was significantly more efficient than Driskel's nearly three quarters of play.
Without those reps in practice — especially necessary for a young quarterback who appeared to be running a streamlined version of Florida's offense against the Vols — I have a hard time believing Harris will get more than spot duty on Saturday, even if he might still be the leader to take the starting quarterback job for good. The turnaround is just too dramatic to expect Harris to move right back into that role at the moment.
The university drew praise this week for that "swift and decisive action" it took in suspending Harris pending the ongoing criminal investigation. Harris was suspended from all activities on campus within 12 hours of the complaint against him being filed.
But that suspension may look like an overreaction and an unjust punishment to some now — and did, as early as Monday, to some.
I disagree with that take: I am perfectly fine with responding to an allegation of sexual battery — or any kind of sexual assault, to include rape — with immediate suspension of students, with further action pending the findings of an investigation. A suspension does not violate rights to due process, in my mind, because it happens outside of a court of law. The student's privileges — and a student-athlete's privileges — may be rescinded by such a suspension, but those are privileges, reserved for people and players who live up to the expectations of the university.
Florida has set a precedent, and a very high bar for standards of conduct, with its response to this case. It will be difficult for Florida to move that bar down in the future.
But I don't think that should happen.