EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on the case, read our original piece concerning the rape victim’s testimony in court.
(Reuters) – A Tennessee jury on Tuesday convicted two former Vanderbilt University football players of the campus rape of an unconscious female student.
Prosecutors said the woman was raped by four Vanderbilt players on June 23, 2013, and the assault was proved by what the young men recorded on a cellphone. After 12 days of graphic testimony, jurors deliberated less than four hours before rendering a verdict.
Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg, both 21, the first two suspects to go on trial, were found guilty of four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg was found guilty of the additional counts of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.
Relatives of Vandenburg and Batey broke into tears as the two were led away after the verdict. Vandenburg appeared stunned and Batey became shaken before being led from the courtroom.
They could each face 15 to 30 years in prison, according to Dorinda Carter, spokeswoman for the Nashville district attorney. They are scheduled to be sentenced on March 6.
The two other suspects, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, are awaiting trial.
The woman who was attacked said in a statement released through prosecutors that she hoped the publicity the case received would lead to a discussion about how to end sexual violence on college campuses.
“Finally, I want to remind other victims of sexual violence: You are not alone. You are not to blame,” she said in the statement.
She testified at the trial about how she met Vandenburg at a bar and could not remember the assault.
Defense attorneys had argued that Vandenburg and Batey should be found innocent because Batey was too drunk to make a conscious decision about his actions, and Vandenburg was too intoxicated to commit an assault.
Vanderbilt spokeswoman Beth Fortune said: “The conduct revealed by the evidence at trial was profoundly disturbing and utterly unacceptable.”
“Our heart goes out to the victim. Her testimony was forceful and brave,” Fortune’s statement added.
The four Vanderbilt football players accused of rape were kicked off the football team and banned from campus after the charges were filed.
A fifth Vanderbilt football player, Chris Boyd, faced up to two years in prison on a felony charge of helping to cover up the crime, but was placed on probation for a year in exchange for his testimony against his former teammates.
(Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Sandra Maler and Peter Cooney)