First of Two Vanderbilt Rape Retrials Begins

     NASHVILLE (CN) – Both sides gave brief opening arguments Monday morning in the retrial of a former Vanderbilt football player accused of rape, before witnesses began taking the stand.
     Cory Batey is one of two former Vanderbilt University football players convicted in January 2015 of four counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of attempted aggravated rape.
     The other player tried last year, Brandon Vandenburg, was also found guilty of one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.
     The alleged rape occurred in Vandenburg’s Gillette House dorm room in the early morning hours of June 23, 2013. Vandenburg and Batey, along with two others charged in the case, were kicked off the Vanderbilt Commodores football team after the allegations.
     The alleged victim testified in last year’s trial that she felt “very confused” and nauseous in the morning. She said Vandenburg told her she had gotten sick in his room and he had to clean up.
     She said she felt embarrassed and, when campus police began to look into the incident after seeing surveillance camera footage from Gillette House, she told Vandenburg that she didn’t want him to get in trouble.
     Charges were eventually brought and a jury found Batey and Vandenburg guilty of the charges against them.
     They were facing the possibility of decades in prison, but Judge Monte Watkins declared a mistrial last June after finding that a juror failed to disclose that he was the key witness and named victim in an unrelated statutory-rape case.
     Watkins ruled last week that Batey and Vandenburg’s retrials would proceed separately, after Vandenburg’s attorney tried to delay the case for medical reasons, according to a Tennessean report.
     Tom Thurman, deputy district attorney for Davidson County, Tenn., delivered opening arguments for the state Monday in the first day of Batey’s retrial. He walked the jury through the events of the night in question, calling the incident in the dorm room an “attack.”
     “After you hear , there’ll be no question that the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Cory Batey’s guilty,” Thurman said. “You’ll find not only that he violated statutes for this state, but that he violated the very principles of human decency.”
     One of Batey’s attorneys, Courtney Teasley, who did not represent him the first time around, gave opening arguments for the defense.
     Teasley began by quoting Albert Einstein, saying, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new,” before talking about how Batey encountered new experiences like heavy drinking when he went to college.
     She told jurors that Batey was one of the two drunkest people in the dorm room on June 23, apparently referring to the alleged victim as the other, and that they became “the entertainment for the night.” She said Batey did not take any pictures or video that the jury will see later in the trial.
     “Mr. Batey was drunk out of his mind,” Teasley told jurors, which she says is why he went along with posing for pictures with the alleged victim.
     The state’s witnesses began taking the stand after opening arguments Monday. They included a friend of the alleged victim and a Vanderbilt police officer who described for jurors what was taking place in security footage.
     The trial is expected to last about a week, according to the Tennessean.
     Vandenburg’s trial is scheduled for June.
     Brandon Banks and Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie also face charges of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual assault stemming from the June 2013 incident. Their trial dates have not yet been set. They both agreed to testify for the state in Vandenburg and Batey’s first trial, but only McKenzie actually did.
     Last month, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied a group of news outlets access to police investigation records in the Vanderbilt rape case.

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