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Feb 19, 2015 1:55 PM

Jury finds former Vanderbilt football players guilty of aggravated rape, sexual assault

Updated with statements from the victim and Vanderbilt vice chancellor as well as reaction from defense attorneys

A jury on Tuesday afternoon found Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey guilty of multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual assault.

The former Vanderbilt football players were among four men charged in the June 23, 2013 rape of a female student in a campus dorm room. Testimony during the trial, which lasted 12 days from the start of jury selection, included the introduction of graphic video and photo evidence, tales of excessive alcohol use by minors and an attempt by those involved to cover up the crime.

Vandenburg and Batey each were found guilty on four of five charges of aggravated rape and two charges of aggravated sexual assault. Another charge of aggravated rape was reduced to attempted aggravated rape in each case. Vandenburg also was found guilty on one count each of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.

Bond for both men was immediately revoked and a sentencing hearing was set for March 6.

Following the verdict, the victim released the following statement, which Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman read to the media:

"Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult process. I'm thankful that the criminal justice system will hold the defendants responsible for their violent crimes. The hard work of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors and victims' advocates who dedicated so many months of their lives to this case has made justice possible. I want to especially thank detective Jason Mayo, Sgt. Mike Shreeve, Detective Chad Gish, Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman, Assistant District Attorneys Jan Norman and Roger Moore and victims' advocates Wanda Swann, Lt. Rochelle Berrios and Teresa Sharron. You are my heroes and I am so proud of and grateful for each of you.

"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."

According to WKRN.com, aggravated rape is a Class A felony that carries a sentence of 15 to 80 years in jail while aggravated sexual battery is a Class B Felony with a sentence of eight to 30 years. Additionally, Vandenburg faces a one- to six-year sentence for the unlawful photography count and three to 15 years for the tampering with evidence count.

“I think we did the best we could. I think we shined a light on a national problem. There’s several tragedies in this case,” Batey’s attorney Worrick Robinson said, the television station reported.

Also from WKRN.com: Albert Perez Jr., Vandenburg’s attorney, tearfully stated, “It’s very difficult for a person who is young to understand what happened because he asked me, ‘What happened?’ He didn’t understand.”

Jury deliberations began at approximately 1:30 p.m. and concluded roughly three hours later. Closing arguments concluded during the morning and then judge Monte Watkins read the charges before he turned the case over to jurors.

Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune issued the following statement:

The jury has spoken.  Now it is up to the court to impose an appropriate sentence on the defendants.  The conduct revealed by the evidence at trial was profoundly disturbing and utterly unacceptable.

Our heart goes out to the victim. Her testimony was forceful and brave. She has received our care and support.

Many months ago Vanderbilt found both defendants responsible for violating our sexual misconduct policy, and we quickly discharged both of them from the football team and subsequently expelled them from the university.  We are confident we acted appropriately.

Since Vanderbilt first reported the incident to the Nashville police, we have given our full cooperation to law enforcement, including the District Attorney’s office.  We will continue to do so.

The safety and security of our students is Vanderbilt’s top priority.  Sexual violence will never be tolerated.  Incidents will be investigated, victims will be supported, and perpetrators will be punished.  We will also continue our comprehensive ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of every Vanderbilt student intervening when another student is at risk or in distress.

The trial of these two defendants has ended, but the legal process continues.  Therefore, Vanderbilt will refrain from commenting further.

Three former Vanderbilt football players now have been found guilty in connection with the crime. Chris Boyd pleaded guilty to criminal intent to be an accessory on Sept. 13, 2013 and received 11 months, 29 days of probation. Originally suspended from the team, Boyd was permanently dismissed from the team days later.

Two others, Jaborian McKenzie and Brandon Banks, are likewise charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Their trial date has not been set.

Jan 27, 2015 5:01 PM

DeSalvo & Levine adds Urban as associate

Nashville-based entertainment law firm DeSalvo & Levine has announced the hiring of attorney J.P. Urban as an associate.

His professional experience includes interning for the judges of the Circuit Court for the 21st Judicial District of Tennessee and The Honorable William C. Koch, as well as working with the Volunteer Lawyers and Professionals for the Arts.

Urban (pictured) received his J.D. degree from Vanderbilt Law School and a B.S. degree in recording industry from Middle Tennessee State University.

While at Vanderbilt, Urban served as the executive editor of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law, in addition to being a Chancellor’s Law Scholar. He was also the recipient of multiple awards at VU, such as the Chris Lantz Memorial Outstanding Service Award and the Vanderbilt Scholastic Excellence Awards.

Jan 15, 2015 12:30 PM

VU research to play key role in national manufacturing initiative

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation that President Barack Obama announced last week will see a key contribution via a Vanderbilt University laboratory that studies how materials, structures and machines operate under real-world conditions.

The $259 million IACMI consortium (the University of Tennessee is leading the effort) aims to develop cost- and energy-efficient composite materials and technologies for high-production industries such as automotive manufacturing. Doug Adams (pictured), Daniel F. Flowers professor of mechanical engineering, is spearheading Vanderbilt’s efforts.

The Institute will benefit from a $70 million commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy and $189 million from IACMI's partners.

Supported by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, IACMI joins four other institutes backed by the Obama administration in a recent push to accelerate advanced manufacturing.

A 122-member consortium, the entity will connect the world's leading manufacturers across the supply chain with universities and national laboratories pioneering advanced composites technology development and research.

Read more here at vanderbilt.edu.

Jan 12, 2015 6:45 AM

Vanderbilt acquires Music Row site

Vanderbilt University has acquired for $1.9 million Music Row property located at 1415 17th Ave. S. and once the home of Oasis Center, according to myvu.com.

The site sits adjacent to the Sony Building located at the southwest corner of the intersection of 17th Avenue South and Horton Avenue. VU acquired that property in July 2014.

See an image of the property and read more here.

Jan 8, 2015 10:15 AM

Vanderbilt names vice provost of research, faculty and international affairs

Interim dean of graduate school also appointed as Hall steps down
Dec 3, 2014 6:55 AM

Work continues at VU's Light Hall

Vanderbilt University has landed another permit to allow laboratory work space updates at Light Hall. Turner Construction Co. is overseing the effort, with the permit valued at almost $4 million. Turner already had undertaken a $2.48 million job that included "new mouse-housing rooms will be built along with the lab support space for research on mouse metabolic phenotyping." Light Hall accommodates VU's physiology and biology departments.  

Nov 24, 2014 2:30 PM

Vanderbilt University, VUMC to separate finances

Reorganization will spin out VUMC as independent operation
Nov 14, 2014 2:36 PM

VU official named board chair of national entity

Douglas L. Christiansen, Vanderbilt University’s chief enrollment strategist has been elected board of trustees chair for the College Board, the national organization that connects students to college success and opportunity and administers the SAT and AP programs.

Christiansen (pictured), VU vice provost for university enrollment affairs and dean of admissions and financial aid, was elected Oct. 29 to the two-year post at the College Board’s national meeting. He has served on the board of trustees since 2011.

As the governing body of the College Board, the board of trustees is responsible for approving the organization’s mission, strategic goals and objectives, making legal and fiduciary decisions, including approving the annual budget and major program fees, and advising the College Board president.

In 2009 Christiansen led the development and implementation of “Opportunity Vanderbilt,” which replaces need-based undergraduate loans with scholarship support. Since its launch, the number of Vanderbilt students borrowing with need-based loans, both institutional and federal, dropped 73 percent. More than $183 million has been raised to endow the program.

“Doug is an expert on issues of enrollment management, domestic and international admissions, access and equity, and funding models,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente said. “The College Board will benefit greatly from having an innovative leader like Doug.”

Nov 11, 2014 6:45 AM

Permit Patrol: 10 November 2014

UMPH begins work in MetroCenter, VU moves on engineering building, and more...
Nov 10, 2014 7:00 AM