Another retrial has begun for one of the former Vanderbilt football players originally convicted of rape last year. It was more than a year ago when a jury found Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg guilty on all charges for their parts in raping an unconscious woman and recording the attack on cell phones. But the original rulings were thrown out after a judge granted a mistrial last summer when the defense argued that one of the jurors had failed to disclose that he had been the victim of statutory rape.
The first of the now separate retrials happened in April. After five days of testimony and two and a half hours of deliberation, Batey was found guilty as charged on one count of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, and four other counts of aggravated rape. He is facing 15 to 25 years in prison, with sentencing scheduled for tomorrow.
Vandenburg is accused of “giving instructions [and] encouraging” his former teammates, taking lewd photos of the victim, and of aiding in the cover-up. Prosecutor Tom Thurman described in his opening statements how Vandenburg recorded what happened, which is now evidence in the case, and later took steps to cover up what happened. From the Tennessean:
“He’s videoing it,” Thurman said. “And he’s encouraging it.
“You’ll hear him tell Mr. Batey, ‘You ain’t even hard, dude.’
“And then you’ll hear him laughing.”
Vandenburg had sex with the woman the next day, after he told her he’d cared for her when she was drunk, and ejaculated to destroy DNA evidence, Thurman said.
Vandenburg’s lawyers are arguing that the then-19 year old was just trying to get an intoxicated woman he was dating back to his dorm room so she could sleep when he encountered a group of teammates he didn’t know. Unable to carry the woman alone, he asked for help.
“Brandon Vandenburg didn’t know that even though he was 6 foot, 6 inches tall he would get in over his head,” defense lawyer Randall Reagan said, adding that Vandenburg was new on campus and following the example of his mentors.
If convicted, Vandenburg faces 15 to 25 years in prison. Although he has already been found guilty once, the defense is arguing that “he didn’t know that that’s the way these guys did things at Vanderbilt.”
Two other former players, Brandon E. Banks and Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie also were charged in the case. Both are still awaiting trial, but McKenzie will likely testify against his former teammates in exchange for a lighter sentencing.