According to ESPN.com, Florida wide receiver Chris Rainey was arrested Tuesday for Aggravated Stalking, a Third-Degree Felony (punishable by up to five (5) years in prison), for allegedly sending a former girlfriend a threatening text message.The school did not announce any disciplinary action against the 5-foot-9 Junior, but offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said, “Chris Rainey is not a part of our team right now. That’s really all I have to say on that.”
Florida coach Urban Meyer met with reporters on Wednesday and said, “There will be further evaluation as we go. The immediacy of it is that he’s not with our team.”
Meyer would not speculate how long Rainey would be out. Rainey was released from the Alachua County Jail on his own recognizance (ROR) and ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim.
The alleged victim also was in Court with her mother and sister. The woman told Judge Denise R. Ferrero she does not fear Rainey but was concerned about retribution from the public following all the media attention.
She also asked for the charges to be dropped. However, in the State of Florida, Domestic Violence charges can be filed by the State Attorney’s Office even if the victim is uncooperative or does not want to prosecute. Florida has what’s known as a “pro-prosecution” domestic violence policy.
“I did not want to have him arrested,” she said. “When the police came, I signed papers to not press any charges. I don’t fear for my safety. … People all over the country have been calling my cell phone. I’m not afraid of him. I’m more afraid of all the repercussions.”
According to the Gainesville Police Department, Rainey sent the woman he dated on-and-off the last three (3) years a text message that read: “Time to die, bitch” after leaving her home.Officer Jesse Bostick said the woman fell asleep and missed a call from Rainey. Rainey then went to her home, they talked and she told him to leave. According to Bostick, the woman got the text a short time later and called police.
Rainey’s attorney, Huntley Johnson, told The Associated Press that his client was “overcharged by the arresting agency.”
“My early sense is this will be something less than a Third Fegree Felony,” Johnson said. “I think this will turn out to be what I think this is, which is something minor. I don’t think that the [state] statute was intended for this kind of thing.”
I tend to agree with Rainey’s attorney about this charge. “Aggravated Stalking” would require conduct on Rainey’s part that was willful, malicious and repeated. In my opinion, one text message, even of this nature, falls short of this Felony offense.
Johnson called Rainey a “terrific kid who works his rear end off” in the classroom and on the football field and added that he hopes Rainey will be reinstated this season.
“I think this is something that will pass,” Johnson said. “He never intended for this to happen nor would he ever hurt this woman. He cares deeply about this woman. He didn’t handle it like he should have. He knows that. Hopefully this will end up being a bump in the road.”
Florida will likely be without Rainey at Tennessee on Saturday. State Attorney Bill Cervone told Florida Today that no decisions on the case will be made this week.
Rainey, from nearby Lakeland, Florida has six (6) receptions and a touchdown this season. He’s also the team’s primary punt returner. He missed the second half of Saturday’s game against South Florida (USF) with a concussion.
Rainey also missed practice Monday.
Meyer has suspended other players, including defensive end Carlos Dunlap last season and receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. this summer, immediately following arrests. Rainey is the 27th player arrested during Meyer’s six (6) seasons in Gainesville. And they call my school, The University of Miami, “Thug-U?”
Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com SEC blogger Chris Low was used in this report.