Vanderbilt Star Football Players Indicted For Gang-Rape
Is "Vanderbilt" set to become the new "Steubenville?"
Four of the private university's star football players were indicted last Friday for the gang-rape of an unconscious female student. Surveillance tapes revealing "concerning behavior" were first noticed by Vanderbilt authorities, and then handed over to Nashville police.
Little is known about the evening of the alleged rape, or the identity of the victim. The university released a statement offering the victim "our deepest sympathies and sorrow," and the district attorney's office has at least five members of the team lined up as witnesses.
The arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 21, the first day of Vanderbilt's fall classes. There are rumors that other, similar incidents have occurred at Vanderbilt, but at present, that remains little more than hearsay.
The four defendants (Brandon Banks, Cory Batey, Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Vandenburg) are between 18 and 20 years old. The group had allegedly been at local nightclub Tin Roof when they ended up in Vanderburg's dorm room with the young woman. The Daily Beast reports:
Vandenburg was a star recruit for Vanderbilt, all set to start this fall. He was the nation’s number-one junior college tight end, and the Commodores’ highest-ranked recruit for the 2013 class. According to ESPN, the Commodores’ coaching staff “expect[ed] big things” from Vandenburg. And Vandenburg told ESPN in January that he didn’t “just want to be a starter…I want to be an impact player.”
The four boys have each been indicted on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated assault. (The term "aggravated" is added to charges in which the circumstances were particularly disturbing and/or violent.) Vanderburg will also face charges of unlawful photography and tampering with evidence. He remains in jail, along with Batey; McKenzie and Banks have posted bail.
McKenzie has officially plead "not guilty," so won't be charged at the arraignment. The other three players haven't yet made a move towards a plea. There are rumors that McKenzie might be acting as a "co-operating witness." His bail was one-seventh of Batey and Vanderburg's, which would suggest his circumstances are different.