The arrest of five players on the Vanderbilt football team this summer regarding an alleged gang rape shocked Nashville and college football fans across the nation. The five young men allegedly sexually assaulted an unconscious 21-year-old female student inside a Nashville campus dorm last June. Now, a new BuzzFeed article sheds more light about the alleged incident. To say the details are troubling is to put it mildly: the victim had been out partying on the night of the incident with one of the guys, who then allegedly took her back to his dorm while she was unconscious, where he and his teammates sexually violated her and filmed it.
Here’s what we knew before about the alleged Vanderbilt sexual assault:
- The incident occurred in a campus dorm on June 23rd. The players were allegedly seen on a surveillance camera in a dorm’s hallway by campus safety officials, who were examining the tape for unrelated reasons. When they saw suspicious behavior, they looked closer into the young men — who happened to be Vanderbilt football players — seen on the tape.
- The footballs players who were indicted are Cory Batey, 19; Brandon Banks, 19; JaBorian “Tip” McKenzie, 19; Brandon Vandenberg, 20, and Chris Boyd, 21.
- Batey, Banks, McKenzie and Vanderberg were indicted on five counts of aggravated rape each and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vanderberg was charged with one count of unlawful photography and one count of tampering with evidence. Boyd was charged with a felony count of being an accessory after the fact for allegedly advising Vandenberg over text message to delete pictures and video Vandenberg had taken.
- Vanderbilt immediately suspended the players from the football team.
Thanks to the new BuzzFeed investigation, more troubling details have emerged:
- The victim is a 21-year-old woman, an incoming senior from Oklahoma, who was casually dating Brandon Vandenberg. The two had been out drinking at a Nashville bar called the Tin Roof on the night of the alleged sexual assault. At some point in the evening, the woman passed out and was taken to Gillette House, a dormitory where Vandenberg and other football players lived during the summer.
- On the night of the assault, students in Gillette House heard a loud “bang,” like the sound of something being broken. It may have been a door on a second-floor hallway that was apparently kicked open (and which may or may not be connected to the alleged assault). Campus safety watched surveillance tape from that hallway looking for information about the broken door and that’s when when they witnessed multiple football players going in and out of a dorm room, until Vandenberg finally covered the security camera with a towel.
- BuzzFeed reported that “objects were used to penetrate the victim,” though it is not explained who did that or what objects were used. It’s also unclear exactly who sexually penetrated the victim in other ways.
- Because of the towel Vandenberg tossed over the security camera, it is unclear whether the victim was taken from the dorm room at some point in the evening. It’s unclear where she woke up the next day.
- Vandenburg allegedly filmed video and took pictures of the alleged sexual assault on his cell phone and sent them around, including to two former teammates from a former football team in California. The two men — Miles Finley, 19, and Joseph Quinzio, 20 — have been charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly deleting the images from their phones.
- Vanderbilt’s football coach James Franklin denied an accusation he viewed the sexual assault video that Vandenberg filmed and advised the person who showed it to him to delete it.
- BuzzFeed alluded to a “racially charged” nature to the video of the assault, although what that specifically means is not explained. The victim is white; Vandenberg is white and the three other alleged assailants are Black.
- The victim was unaware of the assault until she heard from her peers about the pictures and the video. She is still enrolled at Vanderbilt.
All this information came from original BuzzFeed reporting and Deadspin, a sports blog, added that they were contacted over the summer by sources with some of the same information (which they were unable to corroborate). Heavy stuff.