Based on the words of the prosecutor in the case, there was nothing legally untoward that occurred regarding James Franklin contacting the alleged victim of a rape for which four of his former Vanderbilt players have been charged.
While it remains to be seen whether the NCAA will be interested in the “hostess” angle of the situation — probably not — it appears the Penn State community, still edgy given the football program’s recent past, can breathe a little easier when it comes to their first-year football coach. Well aware of the negative public perception on some fronts attached to the allegations, and knowing full well that he could be called to testify in the Vandy rape case, Franklin (somewhat) publicly addressed for the first time Thursday the developments from earlier in the week, developments brought to the surface for public scrutiny by the defense attorney for one of the four defendants.
“I addressed this matter Tuesday [in a statement] and during my initial press conference on Jan. 11, cooperated fully with the authorities,” Franklin said. “This matter was thoroughly investigated by the authorities and also Vanderbilt’s internal counsel and external counsel. This is a legal matter though and that’s really about all I can say. So I want to be as open and transparent as I possibly can, and have been all along. But with this being a legal matter, that’s about all I can say.”
The prosecutor defended Franklin’s actions toward the alleged victim earlier in the week and didn’t seem pleased that the story has taken the turn it has.
“I think he and his wife called and said they were praying for her and thinking about her. It was probably a pretty nice thing to do, and it gets thrown up like this,” deputy district attorney Tom Thurman said Wednesday. “Obviously, it wasn’t for any purpose of covering up or anything like that. It was showing support, which was a nice thing to do. That’s the only contact I know about.”
While Franklin is, obviously, reticent to discuss the issue publicly, the same reservations do not apply privately. The coach acknowledged that he used the ongoing situation at his former school as a teachable moment for his current players.
“We put a power point presentation up every single day,” the coach said, “every time that we have a team meeting and it shows examples of things that are going on in this country and… for them to hopefully learn from.
“And [the Vandy situation] was one of them. I shared with them what I could just like I’m sharing with you guys today what I can.”