Jurors watch video in Vanderbilt football rape trial
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jurors in the rape trial of two-ex Vanderbilt football players watched dorm surveillance video Thursday of the alleged victim being carried inside and dragged out of an elevator, and heard testimony about another student walking around naked.
Defense attorneys are trying to show the video portrays a culture of binge drinking and promiscuous sex that their clients were caught up in.
Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey are accused of raping the unconscious 21-year-old woman in a dorm room in June 2013. Two other ex-players charged in the case are expected to testify against them. All have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say the surveillance video – discovered when officials were looking into vandalism – prompted the rape investigation.
Under cross-examination, Vanderbilt police Lt. Donnie Harville testified that the video showed a male student walking naked out of a bathroom in the coed dorm. It also appeared that no one called police to report concern for the alleged victim, even though the video showed two female students nearby when she was carried inside Gillette House around 2:30 a.m.
”To your knowledge, did she contact anyone out of concern? defense attorney Worrick Robinson said of one of the females.
”To my knowledge, no,” Harville said.
The footage did not show any bystanders around when the woman was dragged out of the elevator.
The defense appears to be trying to convince jurors that no one would have been concerned for the woman because it was commonplace to see students drunk.
Prosecutors accuse the players of laughing, taking photos and videos while the incapacitated woman was being violated in a dorm room. One is accused of inserting something in her while another egged him on. Another player is said to have had sex with her and urinating on her.
Defense attorneys have said Vandenburg and Batey were drunk despite not being old enough to drink. Vandenburg had been dating the alleged victim and they had been to a nightclub before he drove them to the dorm. He ran into the other players outside the dorm.
The trial comes in the midst of a debate about the prevalence of rapes on America’s college campuses. The Obama administration has launched a campaign to end sexual assault on university campuses.
Officials at Vanderbilt University did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
The trial wrapped up for the day with crime scene investigators testifying that part of a campus dorm room had been cleaned when they arrived.
”The room was extremely cluttered except for an area on the floor,” Metro Police office Sharon Tilley testified of Vandenburg’s former dorm room.
One officer testified that detectives told them to look for evidence on the floor. Prosecutors also say the woman was urinated on.
Tilley and Officer Felicia Evans said they found towels that smelled of urine, and fingerprints on a box of condoms in a drawer.
They were not able to find evidence of body fluids on the floor that would indicate a sexual assault, but the officers did not go to the dorm room until four days after the alleged attack.
The trial resumes Friday.