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Florida WR Chris Thompson arrested, charged with simple battery, dating violence

Here's the first bit of off-the-field trouble for Florida under Jim McElwain.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida wide receiver Chris Thompson was arrested and charged with simple battery and dating violence by the Gainesville Police Department after scratching a former girlfriend's arms and neck during an argument, as first reported by The Gainesville Sun's Robbie Andreu.

Andreu's tweets began the public reporting:

The Independent Florida Alligator's Richard Johnson followed Andreu with the arrest report, which has Thompson being arrested at 5:28 p.m. on April 1 after an argument around midnight. According to the report, Thompson "grabbed (the victim's) arms" while trying to "physically retrieve" his phone from her during an argument about a text message, "causing bruising," and "scratched (the victim's) neck and arms causing lacerations."

Here's how Florida statute 784.046(d), part of the statute on assault, battery, and culpable negligence, defines "dating violence" as such:

"Dating violence" means violence between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the consideration of the following factors:

  1. A dating relationship must have existed within the past 6 months;
  2. The nature of the relationship must have been characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement between the parties;
  3. The frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship must have included that the persons have been involved over time and on a continuous basis during the course of the relationship.

The term does not include violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.

No incident of domestic or intimate partner violence is too small to dismiss. However, given the scant details we have via Andreu's reporting, this would not seem to be the sort of violence, even administered by a man on a woman, that typically results in major criminal charges. For the sake of comparison, then-Florida tight end A.C. Leonard was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges in 2012 after his girlfriend told police he dragged her by her hair and forcibly removed her from their apartment; certainly, bruises caused by grabbing arms and scratches to the arms and neck would seem to many to be substantially less violent, though any such distinction is subjective, and violence remains violence.

Leonard, the 10th Florida player arrested during Will Muschamp's tenure as head coach, was swiftly suspended, and eventually chose to transfer rather than shape up and remain at Florida.

Thompson is the first Florida player charged or arrested under Jim McElwain. (Florida did dismiss Gerald Willis in January, but that's a whole other story.) And if he has been held out of practice because of this, and is suspended from team activities (like this Saturday's spring game) pending the resolution of his case and adherence to behavioral standards, that may be an appropriate punishment for him, barring additional details surfacing.

Update: McElwain told reporters Thursday that Thompson has been "excused from the team" while "dealing with" "an incident," and indicated that he will be "until it's resolved."

Thompson's lone original post on Twitter or Instagram since April 1 came on Tuesday: It's an Instagram picture of his newly short hair, free of the dreadlocks he wore for his first two seasons with the Gators. But the caption caught my eye:

They say change is better