Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg has been found guilty on rape charges – again.
After more than four hours of deliberation from a Nashville jury, Vandenburg was found guilty Saturday on all counts – five of aggravated rape, two of aggravated sexual battery and one of unlawful photography – stemming from the rape of an unconscious woman in his dorm room almost three years ago.
It was the second time Vandenburg was convicted in the case. Along with former teammate Cory Batey, Vandenburg was found guilty in January 2015, but a mistrial was declared five months later when it was found that a member of the jury was biased because he withheld that he was a victim in a statutory rape case. Batey was again found guilty during an April trial.
Two other former Vanderbilt football players, Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Banks, were also charged in the case and are awaiting trial. The two have pleaded not guilty.
The incident occurred just weeks after Vandenburg arrived on campus in June 2013 as a junior college transfer. After meeting during his recruiting visit to campus, Vandenburg and the woman had been dating for a few weeks when they met at a bar on June 22, 2013. She said in testimony she does not remember what happened after sipping a drink Vandenburg gave her at the bar. She awoke the next morning in Vandenburg’s bed.
Surveillance footage showed the players carrying the unconscious victim into an elevator and down a hallway before dragging her into the dorm room around 2:30 a.m. Once in the room, Vandenburg, the prosecution said, encouraged his teammates to assault her. He passed out condoms and filmed the rape as it happened, the prosecution told jurors.
The trial featured graphic videos and images taken from the players’ cell phones. After the incident, Vandenburg met with teammates to align their stories and attempted to cover his tracks.
They met up later the day of the rape. She felt bad about the night before, and when he initiated intercourse, she consented, she said.
They continued talking via text message after that, and rumors built on campus about what happened. He began orchestrating a cover-up, according to testimony, meeting with his teammates to get their stories in line and later going to California to destroy evidence. All the while he kept talking to her.
Two days after the rape, he wished her "night :)" and "sweet dreams" in text messages, Metro Nashville Police Detective Chad Gish testified. Three days after, he asked: “When are we going to cook!? Gotta show you my skills."
That was the day the woman went to get an about three-hour medical exam known as a rape kit. Detectives convinced her to go after seeing surveillance video of her being carried into Vandenburg’s dorm. They showed her still images from the video. After she saw those pictures, Vandenburg sent another message: “I would never let what they’re saying happen to you.”
Vandenburg’s cellphone showed internet searches in that same time period. One Gish said he found was: “can police recover deleted picture messages."
Vandenburg was questioned by police four days after the incident and said he watched his teammates assault the woman, but maintained he did not touch her.
A week later, deleted photos and videos of the rape were recovered. They showed a different version of events compared to Vandenburg’s account to investigators.
Vandenburg carried her unconscious body into his room at Gillette Hall about 2:30 a.m. June 23, 2013, asking three teammates he ran into outside for help. They put her on the floor and at least two of them penetrated her with their fingers and one sat on her face, raising his middle finger for a photograph, according to trial testimony.
Vandenburg could not get an erection, so he watched pornography on his laptop.
He tried to wake up his roommate on the top bunk, saying “we have this b---- in here” and “we’re gonna f--- her.”
Vandenburg sent videos to four friends and destroyed condoms.
Now, Vandenburg faces a prison sentence of 15-25 years. No sentencing date has been set.
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