A judge in Nashville, Tennessee has declared a mistrial in the case of two Vanderbilt University football players convicted of rape. Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey were convicted of the rape after portions of the attack on a fellow student were captured on a dorm surveillance video and in cellphone photos taken by Vandenburg. But defense attorneys argued that the two hadn’t been granted a fair trial, because the jury foreman failed to disclose he was raped as a teenager.
The jury foreman, Todd Easter, did not disclose that when he was 16, his older boyfriend was convicted of statutory rape. Defense attorneys started asking for a mistrial in January. Judge Monte Watkins declared the mistrial on Tuesday afternoon, writing that the Easter’s credibility had been irreparably damaged by his failure to disclose the rape:
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.
Easter said he didn’t disclose the incident because he doesn’t consider himself to be a rape victim. Vandenburg and Batey, who were due to be sentenced soon, could be set free, or Watkins could order a new trial.
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Vandenburg entering the courthouse during his trial, November 2014. Image via AP .