On Friday, Metropolitan Nashville Police charged four former Commodore football players with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of sexual battery apiece.
The players - Cory Batey, Brandon Banks, Tip McKenzie, and Brandon Vandenburg - were dismissed from the team and university after news broke about a possible sex crime on campus in late June. They were also barred from setting foot on the Nashville campus while local police and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation gathered evidence revolving around the incident. That investigation culminated with formal charges on Friday.
According to the police, the four allegedly had non-consensual sex with an unconscious woman in Vandenburg's dorm room. The junior college transfer was also charged with tampering with evidence and unlawful photography on top of the seven charges listed above. He is expected to be arrested later in the evening. Batey, a redshirt freshman, had already been arrested and was being held on a $350,000 bond at the time of posting.
Several members of the team were listed as witnesses, though in what capacity is unclear. That connection does not tie them to the crime itself, and could mean something as simple as having seen the victim and the suspects before the alleged crime occurred. These witnesses include starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, guard Jake Bernstein, Mack Prioleau, DeAndre Woods, and Dillon van der Wal.
Here's the university's official statement, courtesy of Vice Chancellor Beth Fortune:
Today the District Attorney charged four former members of the Vanderbilt football team with aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery stemming from an incident that occurred in a Vanderbilt residence hall in the early hours of Sunday, June 23. Our first thoughts are for the victim, a Vanderbilt student, and we convey to her and her family our deepest sympathies and sorrow. We will continue to offer her all of our services and support.
We are shocked and saddened by the allegations that such an assault has taken place on our campus and that they include members of our football team. When certain facts first became known to us, we moved swiftly and decisively to remove these players from the team, suspend them from the university on an interim basis, and bar them from campus. Even before the university took those actions, the Vanderbilt University Police Department contacted the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and we have cooperated closely with them and the District Attorney's office during their investigation.
We respect that at this point in the criminal justice process no determination of guilt has been made and that the accused are entitled to the presumption of innocence. Recognizing this, we are focused on doing everything we can to prevent any future incident like this on our campus. Protecting the safety and security of all of our students is our highest priority and we are reviewing all aspects of this matter to determine if there are additional steps we can take to further that end.
We are proud of the collective accomplishments of our student athletes over many years and we expect the highest standard of conduct from them. It is a privilege, not a right, to represent Vanderbilt as a student athlete, and when our standards of conduct are not met, we will hold our student athletes accountable. The charges brought today against the four former Vanderbilt football players allege conduct which is abhorrent and will never be tolerated. We will review our athletics program to be sure that it, like all other programs at the university, reflects our culture of community and respect for others and that our student athletes are held to the same high standards of conduct as all our students.
We are a strong and close-knit community and we will grow stronger and closer as we deal with today's announcement and the resolution of the charges that have been brought.
Because this is an ongoing matter for the criminal justice system and our own internal investigation remains ongoing, we will only comment further when appropriate. Thank you.
These charges will add new life to the worst scandal to ever rock Vanderbilt football and confirm our worst fears about what may have happened that summer night. Anchor of Gold would like to express our sympathies to the victim. Hopefully these charges will begin to bring some closure for her.