Former Vanderbilt players enter not guilty pleas in rape case

Attorneys for four former and one suspended Vanderbilt football player entered pleas of not guilty on all charges related to an alleged June 23 rape at an on-campus residence Wednesday morning.

All of the players waived their right to appear and were not in court. Attorneys for each waived the reading of the charges.

“They waived their appearance, which is not uncommon,” assistant district attorney Tom Thurman said. "Obviously, there has been a tremendous amount of work by the police department, and it’s ongoing as we speak. That’s about all I can say.”

The arraignment for the four primary suspects — Brandon Vandenburg, Brandon Banks, Cory Batey and Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie — took place in the court of judge Monte Watkins. All four were indicted on Aug. 9 on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg additionally was charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.

The arraignment for wide receiver Chris Boyd took place in the court of Judge Steve Dozier. Boyd was charged last Friday with felony accessory after the fact.

Worrick Robinson, defense attorney for Batey, called the day’s events “just part of the process.”

Lawyers on both sides indicated that there have not yet been talks about a plea bargain.

“In every case, you have to weigh all the options,” Robinson said. “I feel certain that at some point discussions will take place with the state but none have been held as of this date.”

Next on the calendar is a Sept. 19 'discussion date,' which will be preceded by a discovery period. The defense also will have the opportunity to file any motions it feels are necessary before the cases can proceed to trial.

“As far as what happens now, everything is just moving forward,” Robinson said. “… There are certain dates in the court scheduling order that will require discussions with the district attorneys office and also requires that Mr. Batey be in court on those dates.

“We did enter a plea of not guilty on all counts. And the process begins.”