A Tennessee jury has convicted a former Vanderbilt University football player of encouraging his teammates to rape an unconscious woman who he’d been seeing.
A jury deliberated for four hours on Saturday before finding Brandon Vandenburg guilty on multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery. In addition he was convicted of one count of unlawful photography.
The jurors in the case had to decide whether to hold Vandenburg criminally responsible for what other players were accused of doing to the female student in a dorm room in June of 2013.
Four former players were all charged in the case, with two of them accused of raping and sexually assaulting the woman.
Vandenburg’s attorneys had argued he was too drunk to form the necessary intent to direct or encourage players whom he didn’t even know to commit the crime.
The defence had maintained that Vandenberg was a newly arrived recruit to the Nashville school and had asked teammates outside the dorm to help him carry the unconscious woman into his room after he couldn’t get her into her apartment.
Vandenberg’s lawyers told jurors that the other players were on the woman as soon as they got her in the room.
But prosecutors portrayed Vandenburg as a villain who betrayed a woman who trusted him by plying her with alcohol and encouraging others to violate her. Prosecutors said he passed out condoms to the other players and then took videos of the crime and sent it to friends as it was happening.
The retrial comes amid a furor over the six-month sentence a former Stanford swimmer was given for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. It also comes during an ongoing debate about sexual assaults on campus.
Vandenburg and Cory Batey were convicted in 2015 but the verdicts were thrown out after it was revealed that a juror had not disclosed that he had been a victim of statutory rape.