Charles put on probation


Published: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 22, 2005 at 1:42 a.m.
Suspended Florida linebacker Taurean Charles was placed on probation for a year and ordered to pay restitution to the victim after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of culpable negligence Monday morning in Alachua County Court.
Despite a resolution in his court case, the redshirt junior's UF football career appears over.
Already under indefinite suspension from the athletic department that sidelined him this past season, Charles is expected to be suspended from the university for another year by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. Robert Rush, Charles' attorney, said he will appeal that impending decision by the university, but chances of winning such an appeal seem slim.
"I think the university's actions are unfortunate and somewhat uncalled for," Rush said. "It's double punishment. I don't think it's at all appropriate. It's not based upon the facts and it's not consistent with what's happened to other (athletes facing similar charges). It's certainly unfair to this young man who could have transferred last year."
Rush said Charles had a hearing with Judicial Affairs last Thursday and the office said it plans to suspended Charles for a year. The punishment likely will become official in the next day or two, Rush said. In the meantime, Charles has continued to attend classes at UF.
"If they follow through, we're going to appeal because it's not fair at all," Rush said. "He's already had a suspension in effect that cost him a season."
In Charles' court case, as part of a plea agreement, the State Attorney's Office had been seeking 30 days of jail time for Charles, but judge Peter Sieg ruled that the misdemeanor charge did not warrant any more time in jail than the four days Charles served after he was arrested last summer.
"I'm not going to treat you differently than I would anyone else," Sieg said "Thirty days for this charge would not be the norm."
Charles was then sentenced to the four days in jail he'd already served, placed on probation for a year and ordered to pay restitution of $897.12 to the victim and $263.00 in court costs. The judge also said Charles must be assessed for anger management and complete a course if it is recommended by a counselor.
Rush said he was "disappointed" by the state's desire to seek a 30-day jail sentence for Charles.
"I still cannot figure out why that's justified when you look at other people pleading (no contest) to a misdemeanor like that," Rush said. "It doesn't happen."
Charles, 20, was arrested on July 20 after authorities said he punched a UF student in the head and threw a keg of beer on his face, causing serious injury, during a party across from campus.
Speaking in court, Charles apologized for what has happened, but showed no remorse for allegedly injuring another student.
"I've learned a big lesson from all this. I apologize for what happened," Charles told the judge. "I feel we didn't represent the school well that night. It's taken a toll on me. My (football) career is basically over. I'm sorry for what's happened and I've learned my lesson."
Later, outside the court room, Charles denied throwing the keg that left a student injured and semi-conscious.
Charles said he plans to remain in classes at UF during his expected appeal to the school's impending decision to suspend him.
"If there is a possibility to play football, then I'll stay," he said. "If not, I'll leave. I'm going to get an education no matter where I go.
"The decision (by Judicial Affairs) hurt me a lot. All these months I was thinking take care of business downtown and stay in touch with the coaches and everything will be all right. Now, they're saying no matter what happens downtown, they still have the right to kick me out of school. I don't think it's fair. They should have told me in the fall or last summer, then I'd at least have a Plan B or something else in mind."
You can reach Robbie Andreu by e-mail at andreur@gvillesun.com or by calling (352) 374-5022.

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