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Judge declares mistrial in Vanderbilt rape case

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Judge Monte Watkins declared a mistrial Tuesday afternoon in the case of two former Vanderbilt football players convicted of raping a fellow student, reports CBS affiliate WTVF.

According to the station, defense attorneys for Brandon Vandenburg and Corey Batey brought the mistrial motion before the court, saying the two didn't get a fair trial because a jury member failed to disclose the fact that he had been a victim of statutory rape.

From the beginning of the trial, attorneys have questioned the honesty of former jury foreman Todd Easter, reports the station. During jury selection, Easter failed to disclose that when he was 16-years-old, he was in a consensual relationship with a 23-year-old man.

After Easter's parents found out about the relationship, the man, Matthew Swift, was charged with statutory rape, and convicted.

Easter's history as a victim came to light when Swift told local news stations about the case involving the two.

Prosecutors said Easter's history did not effect the jury's decision in the Vanderbilt case.

But Batey's attorney accused Easter of intentionally hiding his past, an accusation he denies.

According to the station, none of this, however, was ever conveyed during jury selection. Defense attorneys argue in no way would they have allowed the 31-year-old to be a juror.

Now that the ruling has been made, Vandenburg and Batey, who the jury convicted of multiple counts of aggravated rape and sexual assault, could be set free. A date could be set for a new trial.

According to WTVF, in Tuesday's ruling Judge Watkins concluded, in part:

"The defendants have a right to a fair and impartial trial, a right that was violated by Juror # 9's misconduct. By failing to disclose the named victim in a twenty three count statutory indictment, the presumption of jury bias was met."..."Juror # 9's credibility has been tainted and brought a presumption of bias to the jury. Considering all of the circumstances outlined herein, actual bias has been clearly shown. Our system of justice cannot tolerate a trial with a tainted juror regardless of the strength of the evidence against the defendant."

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