Former Florida Gators defensive tackle Caleb Brantley will not face charges in conjunction with his alleged assault of a University of Florida student in an April incident at a Gainesville bar, state attorney Bill Cervone announced Wednesday.
The statement, made to explain Cervone’s office’s thinking “because of the notoriety involved in this matter,” says that there “no reliable evidence” upon which to base a case for Brantley’s arrest or prosecution.
Alachua County court records show that the case has been closed “due to insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction.”
Attorneys for Brantley and his alleged victim traded public statements in the days after that charge, which came more than a week after an initial incident report that did not result in charges. One of Brantley’s attorneys, Huntley Johnson, asserted that his client was a victim and that representatives of the alleged victim approached him seeking a settlement, and attorneys for that woman claiming that the Gainesville Police Department had fabricated its initial report — before later retracting that explosive allegation.
Additionally, as reported by Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole — a Gainesville resident who has taught classes at the University of Florida and is currently listed as an adjunct professor — a security guard present on the night of the incident provided an affadavit claiming Brantley did not punch the alleged victim, only pushing her.
Another attorney for Brantley told Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that Brantley is “relieved” by the state attorney’s decision.
"It is obvious that the State Attorney's Office did a thorough investigation into this case," said Amy Osteryoung, one of Brantley's attorneys. "It should be equally apparent that we agree with his decision.
"I spoke with Mr. Brantley and he is both relieved and thankful this investigation has concluded. He is looking forward to beginning the next chapter in his life with the Cleveland Browns."
Brantley would fall dramatically in the 2017 NFL Draft, eventually being selected by the Browns with the first pick of the sixth round. Brantley had been considered a early- to middle-round pick by most observers, and his fall was likely precipitated by the charge against him, which Browns general manager Sashi Brown admitted might force the Browns to later release Brantley.
Instead, Brantley is now seemingly clear of any criminal proceedings against him. The Browns released statements from Brown and Brantley on Twitter on Wednesday, cautioning that he “must grow” from this indicent, but pointing toward his new ability to “focus” on making the team.
Brantley’s alleged victim — who has changed counsel since the battery charge was filed — could still pursue a civil suit, something her new attorney suggested Wednesday is a likely path forward. But that is unlikely to result in any meaningful action by the Browns or the NFL in regards to Brantley’s employment.