Vanderbilt players laughed, videotaped, texted as they gang raped neuroscience student

A prosecutor in the rape trial of two former Vanderbilt football players said in his opening statements Tuesday that the defendants ruined the life of a promising young neuroscience student when they sexually assaulted her on campus in 2013.

Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman told Tennessee jurors that former players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey giggled, shot video and sent text messages while they sexually abused her in an assault that began in a dormitory hallway.

He described in sometimes graphic detail how one former player violated the female student with a water bottle while a teammate egged him on. The prosecutor said one of the players passed out condoms and raped her.

Thurman said one of the former players urinated on her and made a racial remark. Three of the ex-players are black and one is white. The victim is white.

‘And after hearing all the proof you will be convinced they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,’ Thurman said.

The alleged victim, an Oklahoma native, sat in the audience during opening statements wiping her eyes with a tissue. She is expected to take the stand as a witness for the prosecution later in the trial.

The trial takes place amid a roiling national debate about the prevalence of rapes at US colleges and universities, with investigations under way at dozens of colleges around the country and the Obama administration launching its own star-studded campaign, ‘It’s On Us,’ to end sexual assault on America’s campuses.

Vandenburg and Batey are being tried this week on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.

Vandenburg is also charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.

The defense will blame alcohol and a culture of binge drinking and sexual promiscuity on campus.

Alcohol intoxication cannot be used as a defense for aggravated rape. However, defense attorneys hope that jurors will consider that their clients weren’t even of legal drinking age and were heavily intoxicated when the events took place.

‘I think the proof will be very clear at the end of the trial that alcohol played a role in what happened in that dorm room,’ Worrick Robinson, an attorney who represents Batey, told jurors.

He said Batey was so drunk that he blacked out that night.

Robinson also told jurors that there is no evidence of Batey’s DNA in the dorm room and no evidence of his fingerprints on a condom box.

One of Vandenburg’s attorneys called the prosecutor’s statements elegant but ‘inflammatory’ and said evidence would show that his client was not responsible for what someone else did to the woman, who allegedly was his date that night.

According to published accounts, on June 23, 2013, Vandenburg, a star player who had recently transferred to Vanderbilt from College of the Desert in California, took the 21-year-old student to a bar called Tin Roof, and on the ride back the player’s date reportedly passed out in the car.

Several Vanderbilt students stated that the woman was then carried to Vandenburg’s room on the second floor of Gillette House, where she was allegedly raped by a group of young men.

Both defense attorneys warned jurors about the two other former players who are charged in the case. Brandon Banks and Jaborian ‘Tip’ McKenzie are expected to testify against Vandenburg and Batey.

Fletcher Long, one of Vandenburg’s defense attorneys, told jurors that they have changed their stories repeatedly.

Both defense attorneys suggested that Banks and McKenzie would be willing to point the finger at Vandenburg and Batey in order to get a good deal with prosecutors.

Some widely publicized investigations involving student-athletes have heightened the focus on sexual assaults at college.

Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared last month of violating the school’s code of conduct in relation to allegations that he sexually assaulted a student in 2012. Winston had adamantly denied the allegations.

In Knoxville, two University of Tennessee football players were suspended from the team last year after a fellow student accused them of sexual assault. No charges have been filed against them.

A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by three University of Oregon basketball players filed a federal lawsuit last week against the school and the men’s basketball coach. The three students had been kicked off the team in April.

The trial is set to resume Wednesday at 9am Central Time.

Source: The DailyMail

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