NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A defense witness in the case of four former Vanderbilt University football players charged with gang-raping a fellow student testified Friday that one of them was so drunk, he would have struggled to form the intent to commit such a crime.
Neuropsychologist James Walker said Cory Batey told him he had 14 to 22 alcoholic drinks before the players allegedly raped an incapacitated co-ed in a dorm-room, and then shared images of the scene with friends as it was happening.
"Because he was this intoxicated, he was not his normal self," Walker said. "He was doing things that he would not have done normally."
Walker also said Batey told him he was "horrified" by his actions, supporting a defense that appears to blame the elite school in Tennessee for warping the players' judgment.
All four of the former players have pleaded not guilty; Batey, who played wide receiver, and Brandon Vandenburg, the nation's No. 1 junior college tight end before arriving at Vanderbilit that year, are being tried first.
Attorney Worrick Robinson told jurors that Batey, was an upstanding and promising young player before he "walked into a culture that changed the rest of his life."
"The culture was of sexual freedom, of sexual experimentation. It was a culture that encouraged sexual promiscuity," Robinson said when he previewed Friday's testimony in his opening statement. "There was also a culture of alcohol and alcohol consumption. And alcohol that changed him and changed others and changed several people on the morning of June 23, 2013."
Trial evidence showed that what happened in Vandenburg's dorm room that night was recorded in photos and video that were shared with others as it was happening, and that despite the players' efforts to cover it up, rumors quickly spread on campus.
The woman was a neuroscience major who had been dating Vandenburg before the alleged rape. She returned to Nashville for the trial and testified that she woke up in Vandenburg's dorm room bed with her clothes on and no memory of anything that happened after he gave her drinks at a nightclub the night before.
In fact, she had been left unconscious and naked on a hallway, according to a witness who said he helped carry her back into that bed. Two other witnesses who saw her in the hallway testified that her buttocks were bruised red. And yet no one reported the crime to police or school officials.
It might have gone unnoticed and uncorroborated had the university not reviewed closed-circuit TV images several days later in an attempt to learn who damaged a dormitory door. They were shocked to find images of players carrying an unconscious woman into an elevator and down a hallway, taking compromising pictures of her and then dragging her into the room.
Prompted by the video, school authorities quickly called in and questioned the players involved, and then turned an internal report over to police for investigation, leading to this trial.
Vandenburg's defense rested earlier in the day. The video he allegedly shared with friends that night shows him encouraging a player to abuse the woman; a co-defendant called him the instigator of the whole scenario, passing out condoms and egging them on. But there's no evidence or testimony that he penetrated her. At one point, he allegedly told others he was too high on cocaine to manage that.
Jurors will have to decide whether there's enough evidence to hold them criminally responsible.