University of Florida linebacker Cristian Garcia is being hailed a hero after intervening in an alleged sexual assault that he stumbled upon while taking out the trash.
Garcia, who works security at the tequila bar 101 Cantina in Gainesville, Florida, said he saw a man pressing a woman against the dumpster on Thursday morning. The man's friends, he said, were watching, but not intervening.
"At first, the guy said she was his girlfriend, but about five seconds later I realized the girl was unconscious," Garcia told GatorSports.com. "I turned around and pulled the guy by the shoulder and said, 'Get off.' That pretty much ended the situation then. He was intoxicated and attempted to throw some punches, but he slipped and busted his face on the wall."
Witnesses captured video of the incident that, according to police, documented the alleged rape.
"I hold strong moral values and I don't think anyone should be taken advantage of in that kind of way," Garcia told local television station WTLV. "The girl was basically unconscious, so I knew there was no way she could be giving consent."
This story's setting next to a dumpster is eerily similar to that of the now-infamous Stanford rape case and, thankfully, had a similar ending: a hero stepped in to save the survivor in question. Garcia's account does differ, however, in that he says at least five people saw the alleged rape taking place and chose not to intervene.
In fact, we reported earlier this week about Safe Bars, a new program that is training restaurant, bar and nightclub staff to recognize and defuse situations where there are unwanted advances. Although not a Safe Bars participant, Garcia told The Gainesville Sun that his intervention was informed by 101 Cantina training.
"If that was my sister, I would hope that somebody would do the same thing," Garcia said in his interview with the Sun.
After the recent spate of sexual assault cases across the country, we hope people will take the time to tip their hats to outstanding citizens like Garcia.
Taking The Lede is an A Plus original series featuring ordinary people who quietly do extraordinary things. We believe these unsung heroes deserve their place in the headlines.