NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Defense attorneys for a former Vanderbilt football player accused of encouraging his teammates to rape an unconscious coed will get a chance to have their say in closing arguments Tuesday morning.
Brandon Vandenburg did not have sex or penetrate the 21-year-old student — no one disputes that. But the question jurors will have to decide is whether he can be held responsible for something two of his teammates are accused of doing. Jurors may also consider whether he was so intoxicated that he could not have formed the intent to commit the crime.
Prosecutors have argued that Vandenburg encouraged three other players to commit the sexual assault and he should be held responsible. They have also said the only reason he didn’t have sex with her was because he couldn’t perform.
Vandenburg and Cory Batey are facing trial this week. Two other players have been charged in the case but have yet to go to trial. All four are charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Additionally, Vandenburg is charged with tampering with evidence and unlawful photography. All four players have pleaded not guilty.
The alleged victim in the case testified that Vandenburg plied her with alcohol at a Nashville night spot and the last thing she remembers is waking up alone in a strange dorm room and feeling sick. She said she still has no memory of what happened to her.
Vandenburg is accused of bringing her back to the dorm and randomly meeting up with three other players.
“Mr. Vandenburg did a lot to assist in this crime,” Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman said in her closing arguments, which began Monday afternoon.
Throughout the trial, jurors have seen graphic images and videos of the alleged sexual assault that police recovered from cellphones and a laptop. Prosecutors said that players took pictures of the assault and that one sent videos to his friends as it was happening.
Norman argued that Vandenburg and Batey could be convicted on several charges on much of the video and photo evidence alone. She also pointed to a parade of athletes who testified against the pair, including another one charged in the case.
Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie, who is also charged, testified that Vandenburg was “amped” and coaching the players. He said he did not touch the woman but took pictures.
Batey took the stand on Monday, telling jurors he was so intoxicated that he couldn’t remember what happened.
“I was just drunk out of my mind,” he said. “This is something I would never do in my right state of mind. I’m just sorry.”
The alleged victim in the case was crying and doubled over in her seat in the courtroom and appeared to be vomiting while Batey was on the stand.
Batey’s defense has said the videos and picture don’t actually show him having sex with the woman. During closing arguments, one of his lawyers blamed a college culture of binge drinking and sex and pointed out that many people saw the unconscious woman but did nothing to help, as if to suggest the sight of someone that intoxicated was common.
(Photo Source: AP)