The rape happened in a span of 30 minutes. The case has been pending 19 months. The trial took 12 days. The jury deliberations took just a little more than 3 hours.
When the verdicts came in at 4:52 p.m. Tuesday, former Vanderbilt University football players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were found guilty in the rape of an unconscious woman in a dorm on June 23, 2013. The announcement took less than four minutes.
Batey, whose 21st birthday was Tuesday, did not visibly react. But his family members — his mother and uncles and cousins, who filled two rows of court benches — broke into sobs.
Vandenburg, 21, shook his head after the foreman read: “Count 1, we find Mr. Vandenburg guilty of aggravated rape.” His father, Rob Vandenburg, yelled out into the courtroom, later wiping his eyes with a scarf. “That is terrible,” he said. His grief nearly muted the foreman, who continued reading verdicts. All were guilty.
One juror appeared to have tears in her eyes. As the verdict was read, the victim — who does not remember the rape — held her mother’s hand and held back tears.
In a statement, the victim — who sat through every day of the trial — thanked prosecutors, detectives and victims advocates.
“You are my heroes and I am so proud of and grateful for each of you,” the statement read.
“I am also hopeful that the publicity this case has received will lead to a discussion of how we can end sexual violence on college campuses. Finally, I want to remind other victims of sexual violence: You are not alone. You are not to blame.”
The trial has occurred amid national attention on issues of sexual assault on college campuses, and scrutiny of how colleges react to reports.
Penn State University football coach James Franklin, who was the football coach at Vanderbilt during the time of the rape, did not reply to requests for comment.
District Attorney Glenn Funk said he hopes the case spurs change and sends a message that his office will prosecute cases of sexual violence.
“This case gives our entire community an opportunity to talk to each other and to our children, especially to our boys, about the way we treat women, both with our actions and with our words,” he said. “No one deserves to be violated. Further, if you see someone who is being sexually assaulted, the right thing to do is to report it and try and get the person some help.”
SOURCE: The Tennessean