Chris Boyd reached a plea deal with Nashville prosecutors on Friday, agreeing to testify against his former teammates in exchange for a misdemeanor charge of being an accessory to a crime after the fact. Boyd was originally charged with a felony for his alleged involvement in the rape case that has seen four former players charged with five counts apiece of aggravated rape and sexual battery.
Boyd's involvement after the fact reportedly stemmed from a text message that dismissed tight end Brandon Vandenburg had sent him containing video of the incident. According to Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman, Boyd deleted the message, and then sent Vandenburg a message of his own:
That was enough for the Thurman to charge Boyd with being an accessory to the crime after the fact. The prosecutor then used that charge to compel the redshirt junior to testify against his teammates in their pending trials.
UPDATE 2: According to the DA, Boyd also found the victim on the night of the incident unconscious in a dorm hallway. He carried her back to Vandenburg's bed and left.
UPDATE 3: Boyd wasn't alone when he carried the victim back to bed. Quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels and tight end Dillon van der Wal were there as well. Boyd met later with the players involved to discuss the incident.
Thurman also denied that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin was involved in any kind of criminal activity to protect his players, suggesting that there was "clearly no evidence that Franklin is involved in the coverup." That refutes last week's BuzzFeed story in which an unnamed source accused the head coach of having seen the video in question.
Boyd's conditional plea means that he'll have the opportunity to erase the charge against him if he completes the terms of his probation - namely, testifying against his teammates should they go to trial. Without a pending felony charge, he is expected to return to the university as soon as possible. According to VandySports's Chris Lee, there's a chance that he finds his way back onto the football field this weekend against South Carolina. However, that was back when it looked like a text message was the only thing tying Boyd to this case. In all likelihood, the WR is staring down a lengthy suspension, at least.
We'll have more updates as they develop in this story.
UPDATE: Vanderbilt is looking into Boyd's case, but he will remain suspended for the time being. From the university's latest press release:
Chris Boyd will remain suspended from the Vanderbilt University football team, pending further review by the university. We have no further comment on the matter at this time.