The sexual assault investigation that led to the dismissal of four Vanderbilt football players has taken a decisive turn down the criminal justice thoroughfares with news Friday that the players have been officially charged with the rape of an unconscious Vanderbilt student in a dorm room. Metro police have thus far collected a pile of DNA and other forensic evidence (including some particularly incriminating electronic evidence) Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson has characterized as both “compelling” and “unsettling.”
The Tennessean reported Friday that the four players directly involved with the alleged assault on an unconscious 21-year-old woman are Brandon Vandenburg, 20, Brandon Eric Banks, 19, JaBorian “Tip” McKenzie, 18, and Cory Batey, 19, of Nashville, who have each been charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg has also been charged with one count of unlawful photography and tampering with evidence. A witness list released Friday further reveals that police plan to subpoena the team’s starting quarterback, Austyn Carta-Samuels, along with four other student athletes. So far, police have only arrested Batey, and, after undergoing a state-mandated blood test for HIV, he was booked on $350,000 bail.
A police spokesperson said that the other three suspects know that they are in some serious trouble. From The Tennessean:
“We have been in contact with law enforcement authorities out of state and made them aware of the persons being wanted,” said Don Aaron, spokesman for Metro Police. “If they decide to surrender, that's on them. In the interim, if law enforcement runs into them... they'll be taken into custody.”
All four ex-players have hired attorneys. Banks’ attorney, Grover Collins, said he couldn’t talk about the case.
“At this point I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to comment at this time,” he said.
When asked whether he was negotiating for Banks to surrender to police, Collins said he hoped to arrange that “as soon as possible.”
In a truly unsettling twist, Aaron suggested that the case may grow in weeks to come. Asked if additional arrests were coming, Aaron said, “We are not ruling out the possibility of additional charges.”
Image via AP