Cameron Harrison is a former Spanish Fort High School football player who was accused of raping a classmate at a party in 2015. The rape case was the focus of an episode of ABC News’ “20/20.”
On the morning of October 25, 2015, Alabama resident Savannah says she woke up with little memory of what had happened the night before. “My face was sunken in. I had bruise hickeys all down my neck. I just started crying, because I just felt so disgusted with myself,” she told “20/20.”
The evening before, Savannah had attended a party. There are differing reports about Savannah’s level of intoxication that night– while some people at the party say she had too much to drink and had to be carried upstairs to lie down, others say she was “laughing” and “fine”.
But Savannah had no recollection of the night. When her friend, Jessica, told her she walked in to see Savannah having sex with Harrison that night, Savannah was shocked. Savannah told “20/20,” “[Jessica] said, you know, you and Cameron had sex, but you were really messed up. And I said, ‘You know, I don’t remember that.'”
According to AL.com, Savannah sought medical treatment from the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s medical center in Mobile, Alabama, the morning after the incident. She complained of “severe pain in her vaginal region”.
Here’s what you need to know about Cameron Harrison and the rape case:
1. Cameron Harrison Was Charged With First-Degree Rape
In the days following the party at Harrison’s house, rumors about what had happened between him and Savannah began to surface. In class, Savannah and her friends discussed whether or not Harrison taking advantage of her was considered rape. Savannah tells 20/20, “I was thinking like brutal, like holding, tied down, like gun to your head, tight, just very violent. That’s what I thought [rape] was.”
When a teacher overheard Savannah discussing whether or not the incident was ‘rape’, she sent her to the guidance counselor’s office. School officials then called Savannah’s parents in. One week after the party, Harrison was arrested for first-degree rape.
He was released on a $45,000 bond, suspended from the football team, and forced to take his classes online. Harrison was 16 at the time of his arrest.
2. He Took a Plea Deal in April 2017, but the Case Was Sealed
In April 2017, Harrison took a plea deal. It allowed the case to be settled privately, with “all the terms and conditions sealed”, according to ABC. He was granted youthful offender status, which means details of the case are not public. Harrison’s attorney said the agreement, “resolved the case to the satisfaction of all parties involved.”
After his initial hearing, Baldwin County Assistant District Attorney said in a statement on local TV, “You cannot rape an unconscious girl. … There’s a problem in our society with people feeling entitled to do whatever they wish.”
The terms of the plea deal prohibited Harrison and his family from speaking to ABC’s “20/20.”
After the incident, Savannah and her family have moved out of Spanish Fort and Savannah began blogging about her experiences.
Harrison, now 21, still lives in Spanish Fort.
3. Students Continued to Show Their Support for Harrison After the Allegations Surfaced
According to a 2015 article in the New York Daily News, many students rallied behind Harrison in the weeks after the incident, showing that they fully supported the football star.
“He’s innocent, I couldn’t believe it,” a classmate told Fox 10 News.
“This isn’t something I would expect from Cameron Harrison any way shape or form and I’m sure he will be found innocent and we will wrap this up,” family friend Allen Cox told the news station.
His brother tweeted:
Some friends attended football games with banners saying “Toros 4ever”, with the 4 representing Harrison’s jersey number. Others wore shirts with his jersey number on them. Some simply raised four fingers.
After hearing about this, the school’s superindent released a statement that read, “I am making it clear that I, as superintendent, the board nor this school system will tolerate or condone bullying, intimidation or publicly supporting the violation of law or school board policy. We will deal with such actions appropriately.”
4. Harrison Reportedly Apologized to Savannah’s Father
AL.com reports that Harrison apologized to Savannah’s father, but told him the sex was consensual.
Joe, Savannah’s father, tells 20/20, “[He said] he only did our daughter for five minutes … only five minutes… I told him to get the f— off my property.”
A private investigator who was hired by the Harrisons, however, claims that Harrison never said “he only did [Savannah] for five minutes.”
5. The Case Divided the Town
As a number of outlets who have already reported on the subject have pointed out that this case created a deep rift in this small Alabama town.
According to a 2017 article by Fox Sports, in interviews conducted after the night of October 24, five students claimed they went into the bedroom during the alleged rape. However, all of their stories differ greatly, which has only led to more confusion as to what exactly happened between Cameron and Savannah.
To many, Fox Sports points out, Harrison represented the “community ideal.” He was raised in Spanish Fort, lived in a wealthy gated community, and worked as a server at a local restaurant. He even volunteered with other members of the football team.
One female interviewed by Fox Sports said of the athlete, “He’s a great guy, he doesn’t need to rape anyone… I don’t believe any of it.”
Others, however, are not at all supportive. One student, upon seeing Harrison’s name listed in a program, said, “They have him listed in the program. Why is his name there? It makes me so upset — she goes to this school too, and lives in this community.”