Vanderbilt Rape Trial: Victim Testifies She Has No Memory But Saw Tape Of Herself Being Gang Raped

Imagine waking up in your ‘boyfriend’s’ dorm room with no memory from the night before. That sounds all too common these days with date-rape drugs being passed around like chocolate kisses on Valentine’s Day. We’ve heard high school and college horror stories from around the nation. No school is immune from the allegations and contrary to many of the alleged perpetrators, an unconscious girl is NOT asking for it.

The Rape

This story of rape began two years ago in January 2013. Four Vanderbilt University football players were sending videos around to their friend at the same time they were allegedly raping a young lady in her dorm room.  The victim was a neuroscience major at Vanderbilt and had been on a few dates with  Brandon Vandenburg, one of the accused rapists. The video showed the use of several props including a water bottle and condoms and, according to the prosecutor, it was Vandenburg who initiated the gang rape party and witnesses have been testifying this past week about the intensity upon which he encouraged team participation, ‘egging’ on each to do more as he filmed ‘the events.’

Brandon Vandenburg--photo courtesy of WKRN.membercenter. worldnow.com

One of the accused rapists, Brandon Vandenburg–photo courtesy of WKRN.membercenter. worldnow.com

Vanderbilt University presents itself as one of the most elite schools of the South. It is located in Nashville, Tennessee, but there is nothing ‘Nashville’ about the campus. It believes itself to be a cousin of the Ivy League school elites. All the players in this drama are Vanderbilt students or had once attended this prestigious school. The case is a bit different than some in the headlines in the past few years, in that the young lady not only had no knowledge she was raped, but after being told that she was seen being dragged into a dorm room based upon surveillance camera video feeds, she denied it and attempted to stand up for Vandenburg after he contacted her that he was ‘in trouble.’ How did this case go from a date to rape? And how did it evolve from the victim attempting to protect her ‘boyfriend’ to trial?

College rapes are not uncommon. One in five women will be sexually assaulted while matriculating but it is believed that number is extremely low because of under-reporting of an act that brings shame upon the victims. Before date rape drugs wiped memories clean, most victims were able to recall the absolute moment, horrific details and fear they felt from the attack. Some may have been clumsy attempts while others may have involved violent attacks that scarred the women (and men) both physically and mentally. But this wasn’t one of those rapes, and but for the decisions of the school officials and the police, along with witnesses who came forward with information about the video clips and texts they received, this woman might not have known she was even raped. In fact, after the initial contact by the authorities who were encouraging her to go to the hospital and have a rape kit done, she declined. She couldn’t imagine that what they said happened had actually happened.

Photo of Cory Batey courtesy of 247sports.com

Photo of Cory Batey, one of the accused rapists. Photo courtesy of 247sports.com

This is why these ‘drug’ cases are so different. The victim remembers nothing and although her body may be injured; her mind has no memory of the assault. One question asked recently was whether a woman could have an orgasm while being raped and if so, was it rape? Yes, to both and the second question is so asinine that it shouldn’t be asked at all. Others are questioning whether a woman can be raped who doesn’t remember the rape? Yes. And again, this question is asinine–although some state statutes have been read to mean something very close to this interpretation.

The Trial

Testimony was heard this week from the victim, witnesses and two of the accused rapists who have received promises of lessor sentences for testifying against the other two on trial, ex-football players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey. These two pled not guilty and currently “are standing trial on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. In addition, Vandenburg faces one count of unlawful photography and one count of tampering with evidence.” The other two will be tried and/or sentenced at a later date.

The prosecution rested Thursday after the victim testified that the last thing she remembered was her ‘boyfriend,’ Vandenberg encouraging her to drink. Then she remembered waking up, clothed, in his room the next morning feeling aches and pains. She found herself apologizing to him after he purportedly complained that she threw up in his room and he was forced to take care of her all night. After her initial denial, the videotape of the gang rape was played for her–something like a bad movie but she had a part in it.

The prosecution presented evidence of the dorm surveillance cameras showing the victim being dragged into a room unconscious. The police got involved, and testified that the victim initially tried to defend the ‘boyfriend,’ but cooperated after it came to light that her night was nothing like she had been told. The police were able to pull a copy of the cell phone video off of a laptop and showed the graphic details of a gang rape to the jury on Thursday. Witnesses came forward to substantiate that her boyfriend passed out condoms and encouraged the other three young men–men the victim had never met–to have sex on her unconscious naked body. At the end of the tape, Batey, one of the defendants on trial, proceeded to urinate on her. All the while, Vandenburg videotaped the acts.

These cases can divide communities and in many cases the girl and her family have to leave the communities because of the claimed innocence of athletes even in the light of videotaped evidence. Many of the headline cases have involved athletes in school athletic programs and its players, coaches and parents dictating what is right and wrong. The punishment for the girl–the victim–has been banishment. The rapist–forgiveness and an invitation back onto the team. Never forget the rape culture of Steubenville. And believe it or not, one of the teens found guilty is back on the team.

But this trial is different. The police, along with the school authorities made sure that this woman had a ‘voice.’ As the prosecution rests, we will await to hear from the defense and hear how the young woman without the ability to talk or defend herself was somehow responsible for the attack perpetrated on her by her new ‘boyfriend’ and three men she never met before. It will be interesting to see whether Vandenburg tries to assert she asked for it as he passed out condoms before encouraging the other three to allegedly mount and rape his unconscious girlfriend.

And then we will await the verdict. Stay tuned.

 

Featured Image courtesy of The Student Doctor Network (Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee)