Attorneys for Vanderbilt player charged with rape want case dropped
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Defense attorneys for a former Vanderbilt player charged with raping a woman in a campus dorm last June are accusing prosecutors of destroying or not preserving evidence.
The allegations were contained in a motion filed Tuesday asking for the case against Brandon Vandenburg to be dismissed. It’s the latest filing in the criminal case involving allegations of a gang rape on the Vanderbilt campus. The case has been fractious between prosecutors and defense lawyers, with both sides trading allegations of misconduct.
The attorneys who represent Vandenburg on Tuesday accused prosecutors of ”subterfuge” and said they intentionally concealed evidence from Vanderburg’s defense. A spokeswoman for the Davidson County District Attorney’s office said in an email to The Associated Press that prosecutors had not seen the filings.
Vandenburg’s defense team said in the paperwork filed in Nashville that some of the evidence that was missing was text messages from then-Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and phone records and call logs from Franklin.
The attorneys say the alleged victim told detectives that Franklin and a former Vanderbilt strength training coach contacted her during her medical exam days after the alleged assault, telling her ”they cared about her because she assisted them with recruiting.” The paperwork doesn’t elaborate. The legal filing also says ”Coach Franklin called her in for a private meeting and told her he wanted her to get 15 pretty girls together and form a team to assist with the recruiting even though he knew it was against the rules.”
Franklin took over at Penn State in January.
”The allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true,” he said in an emailed statement put out by his new school. ”I have cooperated fully with the authorities in this matter but, out of respect for the legal process, I am not able to comment any further.”
Vandenburg is one of four former Vanderbilt players accused of being involved in the gang rape. He is charged with five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of sexual battery, unlawful photography and tampering with evidence. Vandenburg and the other accused players have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The paperwork filed by the Vandenburg’s defense lawyers says they were given surveillance video from 14 different cameras of the Vanderbilt dorm parking lot, dorm hallways and surrounding areas. But they say after reviewing the footage from the 14 cameras ”it became apparent that material video footage has been intentionally removed.” The lawyers allege that about 55 percent of the video footage has been removed. They also say a number of other items are missing, including social media, text messages from other witnesses and texts from the phone of the alleged victim.
Prosecutors also have made serious allegations against the defense. They accused one of Vandenburg’s attorneys of causing evidence to be destroyed and one prosecutor called the defense attorney an unindicted co-conspirator.