Report: Vanderbilt Coach May Have Seen, Encouraged Player to Delete Rape Video
A disturbing report alleges that Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin may have seen a video of an alleged rape involving at least four former Vanderbilt football players that have since been dismissed from the team. Franklin, according to the report, may have told a football player to erase the tape of the rape that may have had "a strong racial component."
According to BuzzFeed, the alleged victim, who may have been raped while she was unconscious, reportedly had no idea about the incident until she heard about the existence of the images and video of the alleged sexual attack. Four Vanderbilt football players pled not guilty to sexual assault charges on August 21. Authorities reportedly came to believe Brandon Vandenburg had intercourse with a student from Oklahoma "while she was unconscious, while three other football players said to have been in room at some point in the night were charged as well." Vandenburg and the alleged victim are white, and the three other football players are black.
According to the report, on the night in question on June 23, Vandenburg, "a highly-rated tight end who’d just transferred to Vanderbilt’s football team from junior college, emerged and threw a towel over the hallway camera, and it went dark":
Sources said that some time after the three other football players entered the room, objects were used to penetrate the victim, though it is not clear which defendants took part in this act. During the alleged assault, according to sources, Vandenburg took pictures and video on his phone, and later sent four individuals the graphic footage.
Vandenburg and the victim are white. The three other players are black. One attorney who has seen all the evidence in the case said the video footage has “a strong racial component” that goes beyond the mere fact of the skin colors of the individuals involved, but would not elaborate on specific details.
The three other football players in the dorm room that night were Cory Batey, 6’1”, 208 pounds from Nashville; Brandon Banks, 5’10”, 165 pounds from Maryland; and JaBorian “Tip” McKenzie, 5’7”, 175 pounds from Mississippi. None of them had ever played a game — Vandenburg was a transfer and the other three had been redshirted during their freshman season.
The woman reportedly was "moved through the hallway, at least temporarily, while the towel covered the security camera" and Vandenburg may have given the footage to at least four people. Franklin may have seen the footage and encouraged a player to delete it:
A source close to one of the defendants said he believes that Franklin encouraged a player to delete a video of the incident after the player showed it to Franklin.
“I’m 99.9 percent sure that Franklin saw the video,” the source said. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if the public finds this out soon.”
“Coach Franklin denies that emphatically,” said Hal Hardin, Franklin’s attorney. “People always speculate and gossip. There is no truth to that accusation whatsoever. It’s inflammatory.”
If a plea deal is not reached in two weeks, the case will proceed toward trial and "the evidence prosecutors have collected could become public."