NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A jury convicted two ex-Vanderbilt football players on Tuesday of raping a former student, rejecting claims that they were too drunk to know what they were doing and that a college culture of binge drinking and promiscuous sex should be blamed for the attack.
The jury deliberated for three hours before announcing that Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were guilty. Batey was stoic, staring ahead and Vandenburg shook his head "no," appearing stunned as the verdict was read. His father had an outburst and abruptly left the courtroom.
The victim, who was a 21-year-old neuroscience and economics major at the time of the 2013 attack, cried as each guilty verdict was announced.
Both men were convicted of four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. They face decades in prison when they are sentenced March 6.
The jury heard two weeks of dramatic testimony from a parade of witnesses, including police, former and current Vanderbilt students and the woman, who said she didn't remember what happened that night, only that she woke up in a strange dorm room. They also saw cellphone images from the night of the attack that Vandenburg sent to his friends as it was happening.
Despite the photos and video, and witnesses seeing the woman unconscious and at least partially naked in the dorm, no one reported it.
The trial played out amid a national conversation about rape on college campuses. In Nashville, where the prestigious private university is located, hundreds of officials from colleges across the state are meeting this week for a two-day summit on how to reduce sexual assaults.
Attorneys for Vandenburg, who had been seeing the woman, said he did not assault her but was recorded on video laughing and encouraging his teammates. Batey's attorneys said the images didn't show him assaulting the woman.
Defense lawyers argued that Vandenburg and Batey were too drunk to know what they were doing and that a college culture of binge drinking and promiscuous sex should be partly to blame.