Former Vanderbilt football players convicted on rape charges

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A jury has convicted two former Vanderbilt University football players of raping a female student inside a dorm room.

The jury deliberated for about three hours before finding Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey guilty. Each was charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. They face decades in prison.

Prosecutors say Vandenburg brought an unconscious 21-year-old woman he had been seeing back to his dorm room after a night of drinking in 2013 and the assault occurred as he took pictures.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said the football players believed they were entitled athletes who could "get away with anything."

Defense attorneys countered that the teammates were extremely drunk on the night of the alleged assault, and blamed a college culture of binge drinking and promiscuous sex.

Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman told jurors that the college culture argument was a "red herring" and that the athletes thought the law didn't apply to them.

"That's the culture that you really saw here, their mindset that they can get away with anything," Thurman said.

Earlier, one of the defense attorneys conceded that Vandenburg took "deplorable" photos, but shouldn't be convicted of rape because he didn't take part in it.

"He took photographs that he never should have taken," Vandenburg attorney Fletcher Long said.

Prosecutors say Vandenburg encouraged three of his teammates to have sex with the victim and didn't participate because he couldn't perform.

Vandenburg and Batey were on trial together, but represented by different attorneys. Batey's defense said the photos and videos don't actually show him having sex with the woman and one of his lawyers blamed a college culture so accepting of binge drinking that many people saw the unconscious woman that night but did nothing to help.

Batey testified that he was so drunk he didn't remember what happened until he later saw cellphone photos and video.

"I was just drunk out of my mind," Batey said. "This is something I would never do in my right state of mind. I'm just sorry."

The victim cried as Batey was on the witness stand and appeared to be vomiting at one point.

The woman testified that Vandenburg plied her with alcohol at a Nashville night spot and the last thing she remembers is waking up alone in a strange dorm room and feeling sick. She said she still has no memory of what happened.

Police officers who testified said they didn't find evidence of body fluids on the dorm room floor that would indicate a sexual assault, but they did not go to the dorm room until four days later.

Throughout the trial, jurors have seen graphic images and videos recovered from cellphones and a laptop. Prosecutors said that players took pictures of the assault and that one sent videos to his friends as it was happening.

Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie, who is also charged, testified that Vandenburg was "amped" and coaching the players. McKenzie testified that he did not touch the woman himself but took pictures.

A trial date for McKenzie and Brandon Banks, the fourth player accused, has not been set.