Brandon Banks

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Ex-Vanderbilt player Cory Batey found guilty of aggravated rape

Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean via AP
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Former Vanderbilt football player Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated assault by a jury in a retrial Friday night. Batey will be sentenced for 15-25 years for the aggravated rape charge. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20.

Batey was found guilty on the three of the most severe counts against him, including one for aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. He was taken into custody immediately following the verdict as required by Tennessee law. He was also found guilty on four additional counts; aggravated sexual battery, facilitation of aggravated rape and two counts of attempted aggravated rape.

Batey and the victim in the case each took the witness stand on Friday before the jury was asked to come to a verdict. The jury deliberated for roughly two and a half hours before coming back with the guilty verdict.

Batey was originally found guilty of aggravated rape a year ago, along with Brandon Vandenburg, but the two temporarily escaped legal action due to a mistrial. The mistrial was a result of a juror was ruled to be unable to be impartial due to being a victim of statutory rape.

Vandenburg will go through a similar retrial later this year in June. Two other Vanderbilt players, Jaborian McKenzie and Brandon Banks, are currently pending. All four players had been suspended by the Vanderbilt program in June of 2013 after being connected to the sexual crimes, which was swiftly followed by the dismissal of all four players.

“Our first thoughts are with the victim and the incredible strength she has shown, and continues to show, both throughout the investigation and the legal proceedings,” Vanderbilt vice chancellor for public affairs Beth Fortune said in a statement. “Our heart continues to go out to her as she has endured this retrial. This case has had a lasting impact on us all.”

Mistrial declared in rape case involving ex-Vandy football players

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Back in January, two former Vanderbilt football players, Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, were convicted on multiple counts in connection to a July 2013 rape on the university’s campus.  Five months later, a judge has declared a mistrial in the case.

“The defendants have a right to a fair and impartial trial, a right that was violated by juror #9’s conduct,” the judge wrote in an order released Tuesday, The Tennessean reported.

The newspaper went on to write that “[h]is order did not address how the case will proceed going forward, and whether a new trial date would be set.”  As for the reason behind a mistrial being declared, the paper explained it thusly:

After trial, defense attorneys discovered one juror was a victim in a statutory rape case 15 years ago. They argued on June 15 that the judge should declare a mistrial because that juror could not have been impartial based on his own personal experience. They said the juror intentionally did not disclose that past experience because he wanted to get on the jury.

Prosecutors responded by arguing the juror did not attempt to sway other jurors during deliberations. Called to testify, the juror said he did not even think of the past case until after the trial had ended.

Vandenburg, Batey and two other former Vandy football players, Brandon Banks and Jaborian ‘Tip’ McKenzie, were initially charged Aug. 9, 2013, with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery each after a police investigation determined that the four had raped an unconscious woman. The first two had been convicted of multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery, while the other two are still awaiting trial.

On June 28 of 2013, Vanderbilt announced that four unnamed players had been indefinitely suspended amid reports that the players were connected to an alleged sex crimes case.  The next day, Vandy officials further clarified the players’ statuses, releasing a statement announcing the dismissals of the four.  That release further added that none of the four will be permitted to return to campus without permission from the office of student conduct and academic integrity.

Two ex-Vanderbilt players found guilty in rape trial

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The trial of former Vanderbilt players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey concluded Tuesday with both players being found guilty of all charges. The pair was on trial together but were represented by different lawyers.

The pair was accused of a July 2013 rape, along with two other players – Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Banks – who still await trial.

Deputy district attorney Tom Thurman told the jury the accused thought their status as Vanderbilt football players allowed them to escape justice. “That’s the culture that you really saw here. Their mindset that they can get away with anything,” Thurman said.

The jury deliberated for close to three hours and found both men guilty of all seven counts of aggravated rape or sexual battery. Vandenburg, who was accused of initiating the events of that fateful day, also faced two more counts of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.

Sentencing is set for March 6.

“I was just drunk out of my mind,” Batey said Monday. “This is something I would never do in my right state of mind. I’m just sorry.”

Vanderburg’s attorney Fletcher Long argued his client took pictures of the acts but did not participate himself. “He took photographs that he never should have taken,” said Long.

 

Former Vandy player accuses ex-teammate of initiating rape

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The Vanderbilt rape case gets worse the more we learn about it.

Taking the stand in a Nashville court today, former Commodore wideout Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie accused former teammate Brandon Vandenburg of initiating the alleged June 2013 sexual assault that left four ex-Vanderbilt playersCory Batey and Brandon Banks are the two others, accused of rape.

McKenzie said that Vandenburg encouraged his teammates to assault an incapacitated woman in his dorm room, passing out condoms and even attempting to wake an unnamed, sleeping roommate. “He was like amped, demanding,” McKenzie said, according to the Associated Press. “He was hyper, like he was coaching us to do whatever.”

Prosecutors produced a number of still images and videos of the group committing various assaults on the woman. McKenzie admitted to taking pictures of the attack. He also said that Vandenburg, the alleged ringleader of the assault, did not touch the woman. McKenzie said all four men had been drinking.

McKenzie said he was close with Batey and Banks, but that the group barely knew Vandenburg. “We was like brothers,” McKenzie said, according to the Tennessean.

Following his dismissal from the Vanderbilt program, McKenzie briefly joined the Alcorn State roster before the school did an about face a day later.