University of Florida

UF linebacker from Miami stops sexual assault, police say

University of Florida football player Cristian Garcia (56) from Miami helped stop a man early Thursday morning who police say was reportedly attempting to rape 19-year-old woman behind a Gainesville bar.
University of Florida football player Cristian Garcia (56) from Miami helped stop a man early Thursday morning who police say was reportedly attempting to rape 19-year-old woman behind a Gainesville bar. UF Athletic Association

A University of Florida football player from Miami helped stop a man early Thursday morning who police say was attempting to rape a 19-year-old woman behind a Gainesville bar.

At about 2:20 a.m. Thursday, Christopher Lee Shaw took the woman behind a dumpster in an alleyway in Gainesville’s midtown, according to a Gainesville police arrest report. There, he sexually assaulted her, according to the police report.

Cristian Garcia, a walk-on linebacker with the UF football team who was working a shift at 101 Cantina on Thursday morning, was one of two witnesses who separated Shaw from the victim, according to the police report.

“The girl was basically unconscious, so I knew there was no way she could be giving consent,” Garcia told First Coast News, adding that a brief fight ensued after they pulled Shaw away.

The police department obtained video of the incident that identified both Shaw and the victim, according to the report, and concluded that “it is clear the victim was mentally and physically unable to give consent due to her level of intoxication. The victim was slumping over and unable to hold up her head.”

Both Garcia and the second witness identified Shaw from a photo lineup, according to the police report.

“I hold strong moral values and I don’t think anyone should be taken advantage of in that kind of way,” Garcia told First Coast News.

The victim told investigators in a hospital interview later in the day that the she did not know Shaw and that she tried to push him away but kept losing consciousness, according to the police report.

Police arrested Shaw, 34, on sexual-battery charges. He was booked into the Alachua County Jail at about 10:15 p.m. Thursday on a sexual battery charge, where he remained Saturday in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

Garcia, a former standout at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami, walked on to the Gators last season after previously working with the program’s 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.

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