University of Florida Linebacker From Miami Helps Stop Rape Outside Gainesville Bar: Police

A University of Florida linebacker helped stop the rape of an unconscious woman behind a trash bin outside a Gainesville, Florida, bar, police said.

The football player, Cristian Garcia, and his co-worker sprang into action after they noticed something that didn’t seem right while cleaning up after work at the bar Thursday morning.

The two saw a 19-year-old woman being sexually assaulted by a man along an alleyway behind the dumpster, Garcia and police said. Police later named the suspect as 34-year-old Christopher Shaw.

“I approached the man and grabbed him by his shoulders and said ‘hey get off of her, you can’t be doing this,’” Garcia told NBC 6’s Melissa Adan.

“(The suspect) then said ‘mind your business, mind your business’ and finally he got off the girl, which was good, and then he started to become violent he started to throw punches.”

Garcia said that the man fell and hit his face before fleeing the scene with another person.

Police said they have reason to believe Shaw has raped other women in the area and that video taken of the incident allowed investigators to see that the victim was slumping over and unable to hold her head up as he continued to sexually assault her.

According to the police report, the victim regained consciousness at the hospital where she told police she did not consent to any sexual acts and said she tried to tell him "no." But she was physically helpless due to her level of intoxication, according to the report. 

Garcia, a junior at Florida, walked on to the team last season after previously working in the video department. He played in one game last season for the Gators, recording two tackles in Florida's 41-7 loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.

He gave credit to his upbringing in Miami and education at Belen Jesuit, as well as UF’s athletic association and his coach, for teaching him morals.

“Sexual assault is such an important issue especially across college campuses - and it should be brought to awareness definitely more,” Garcia said.  “I hope what I am able to do is bring awareness to everyone about sexual assault.”

Garcia's intervention in the rape came after a recent spate of sexual assault cases nationally involving student-athletes. 

On July 15, former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of taking part in the gang rape of an unconscious female student in June 2013. 

Last month, a judge sentenced former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail and ordered him to register as a sex offender for life after a jury convicted him of raping a student behind a campus dumpster in January 2015. Prosecutors had sought a six-year sentence. The lighter sentence prompted charges that the white judge was lenient with Turner, who is white and from a wealthy family, because the judge also played sports at Stanford. 

Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio — the son of Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio — said in an Instagram post about Garcia: "Hopefully the media will talk about the good and not just the bad. Proud to be a teammate of Cristian Garcia."

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