Last month’s revelation of four Vanderbilt players being dismissed from the program after reports of an alleged sexual assault took a darker turn on Friday, when the quartet was officially indicted on criminal charges.
According to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, former Commodore defensive back Brandon Banks (age 19), along with wide receivers Cory Batey (age 19) and Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie (age 19) and tight end Brandon Vandenburg have been indicted on five counts of aggravated rape and four counts of sexual battery.
Vandenburg, 20, has also been charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of illegal photography.
Details of the indictments, handed down by the Davidson County Grand Jury on Friday, are under seal, but the four have been charged with raping an unconscious victim in Vandenburg’s room at the Gillette House dormitory in the early morning hours of June 23, after a night of supposed partying.
The event came to light when investigators checked the dorm’s surveillance cameras the next week.
Vanderbilt police were immediately notified, and within a day, the sex crimes unit of the MNPD was brought into the investigation.
“The Nashville community should know that our team of investigators, who along the way received strong support from the Vanderbilt University Police Department and the TBI Crime Laboratory, has been focused on diligently working on behalf of the victim since June 26th, when this matter was first reported to us by Vanderbilt Police,” MNPD chief Steve Anderson said.
“Today’s indictment is the result of tedious and painstaking work.”
District Attorney General Torry Johnson put out a written statement: “Attorneys with our office have been conferring with investigators from the police department since the initial stages of this investigation. Although four people are being charged at this time, the investigation is still ongoing into the actions of other individuals and the role(s) they may have played in this incident.
“As with any pending criminal case, specific information about the charges and the proof will be released at the appropriate time as the case progresses in Criminal Court.”
All four players were kicked off the team on June 29. Each one has retained counsel, while their respective standing at the university remains uncertain. None have had academic hearings yet.
On Friday evening, Vanderbilt officials issued a statement that read, in part:
“Our first thoughts are for the victim, a Vanderbilt student, and we convey to her and her family our deepest sympathies and sorrow. We will continue to offer her all of our services and support.
“We are shocked and saddened by the allegations that such an assault has taken place on our campus and that they include members of our football team. When certain facts first became known to us, we moved swiftly and decisively to remove these players from the team, suspend them from the university on an interim basis, and bar them from campus.
“We respect that at this point in the criminal justice process no determination of guilt has been made and that the accused are entitled to the presumption of innocence. Recognizing this, we are focused on doing everything we can to prevent any future incident like this on our campus.
“Protecting the safety and security of all of our students is our highest priority and we are reviewing all aspects of this matter to determine if there are additional steps we can take to further that end.
“Because this is an ongoing matter for the criminal justice system and our own internal investigation remains ongoing, we will only comment further when appropriate.”