A former Vanderbilt football player has been found guilty of raping an unconscious student in a dorm.
It took less than three hours for the jury of nine men and three women to find Cory Batey guilty of aggravated rape, two counts of attempted aggravated rape, facilitation of aggravated rape and three counts of aggravated sexual battery.
Batey, a 22-year-old from Nashville, is one of four former football players charged with rape and accused of violating the female student in a dorm room in June 2013. He was the only one on trial.
Friday’s verdict arrived as other colleges and universities across the country continue to face significantly increased scrutiny of sexual misconduct on campus, both by activists, lawmakers and the federal government.
A jury last year convicted Batey and former player Brandon Vandenburg on multiple aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery charges. The verdicts were thrown out after Davidson County Criminal Court Judge declared a mistrial after lawyers discovered that the jury foreman had been a victim of statutory rape.
Just like the trial last year, the retrial featured graphic images and videos of the sexual assault. Police said they recovered images and videos from the players’ cell phones. Testimony showed that one of the players sent video of the assault to friends while it was happening.
“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 University 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.’
The trial this week once again raised questions about bystanders in campus sexual assaults. At least five student athletes saw the unconscious woman in a state of distress but did not call for help, including several who testified that they saw her lying partially nude in a dorm hallway.
In closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors that the woman was raped in the dorm room and then taken out in a hallway and left out there like trash. But they also said jurors had more than enough evidence to convict.
“I’ve never had a case that was videoed and photographed by the people who committed the crime,” Tom Thurman, one of the prosecutors, told jurors.
Prosecutors said the dorm room attack lasted 32 minutes and it was Batey who was all over the woman once the players got her in the room.
Batey testified that he had been drinking heavily, blacked out and couldn’t remember the sexual assault.
“There’s nothing to show that Mr. Batey has a memory of anything,” defense attorney Courtney Teasley told jurors in closing arguments. She called Vandenburg the “puppet master” and said Batey was the second-most drunk person in the room and was being used as the entertainment by his teammates.
She said what happened to the woman was bad but it wasn’t rape. “We know what rape is and Mr. Batey’s not guilty of that,” Teasley told jurors
She compared Batey to the victim and said both had blacked out. However, prosecutors maintained that, unlike the victim, Batey was walking around.
The victim in the case testified earlier in the day, the second time in a year that she told a courtroom full of strangers what happened to her. When a prosecutor showed the woman a picture of herself unconscious, she broke down in tears and said: “It’s me. It’s me.”
She was then a 21-year-old incoming senior. The woman, who graduated from Vanderbilt and is now in a neuroscience PhD program in another state, said she has no memory of the sexual assault. She testified that she woke up alone in a strange dorm room, feeling sick and not knowing where she was or what happened to her.
She said she had been dating Vandenburg for about two weeks, and the last thing she remembered was him plying her with alcohol at a popular bar the night before.
The woman discovered what happened after police showed her some of the images and video recovered from the cell phones. Nashville police got involved because Vanderbilt officials contacted them when school surveillance footage showed players carrying an unconscious woman in a dorm.