The attorney for one of the Vanderbilt football players accused of participating in the rape of a woman last summer has entered an unusual argument on behalf of his client: Brandon Vandenburg couldn't possibly be held responsible for rape; he was simply too drunk to know what was going on.
In the summer of 2013, four Vanderbilt football players—Brandon Vandenburg, Brandon Banks, JaBorian McKenzie, and Cory Batey—were dismissed from the team after allegations surfaced that on June 23, the four of them participated in a gang rape of a 21-year-old woman in Gillette House on Vanderbilt's campus. In August, the four ringleaders were charged with aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery. The following month, disturbing details surfaced about what allegedly happened that night. Here's our brother site Deadspin with more:
... a second-floor door was destroyed—seemingly kicked in—and security footage showed a stream of men entering and exiting a room. Then Vandenburg threw a towel over the camera.
It's believed the woman was raped in the room and then moved while the camera was obscured. The woman was reportedly unconscious while Vandenburg had sex with her. After the other three players entered the room, she was penetrated with random objects. Vandenburg recorded and took pictures. The woman had no recollection of any of it until she began to hear about the pictures and video.
The Deadspin piece goes on to add that an attorney who saw video of the assault remarked that there was a "strong racial component" without elaborating.
According to The Tennesseean, Vandenburg's lawyer John Herbison has swooped in to offer what is perhaps the most moronic rape defense of all time. He's enlisted the help of LA-based psychologist Dr. Stephanie Stolinsky who wrote, in a two-page brief, that Vandenburg was too drunk that evening to even realize that his unconscious girlfriend was being raped in his dorm room, or that he was the one maybe possibly doing the raping. Vandenburg was drunk, Herbison argues, that it's impossible to know what really happened:
[Stolinsky] explains that while no blood alcohol test was performed, there are witness statements and evidence to corroborate Vandenburg's account of his alcohol consumption. [...]
She also said that video surveillance showed Vandenburg talked to three young men who assisted him in getting the unconscious female from the vehicle to the dorm room, needing their help to open the access and open the doors.
Stolinsky further states that video surveillance inside the building "shows Brandon stumbling and swaying down a hallway."
She then concluded that Vandenburg was too intoxicated to know what went on that night.
Stolinsky was able to diagnose exact levels of intoxication without tests or even speaking to the subject personally. Helluva doctor.
To add an extra flourish of charm, Herbison has also requested that the alleged victim not be allowed to testify in the trial of her rapists.
If I've learned anything from Viola Davis judging me with her eyes on How to Get Away With Murder (and my brother, who is a defense attorney), it's that a defense attorney's job is to provide their client—guilty or not—with the best possible legal defense. And sometimes (often) that leads to some creative straw-grasping on behalf of the defense team. But this case is particularly absurd, and thankfully, the prosecution agrees; they've denied it as evidence by pointing out that Stolinsky's testimony is "not based on relevant scientific methods, processes or data and is therefore purely subjective."
Still, imagine a world where "... but I was drunk!" was a legitimate legal excuse. If Vandenburg's attorney actually got his way and was able to get his client off because he was too boozed up during the commission of a crime, every jail in Florida would be emptied.
Image via AP