RAPE and Penn State, will the school's football program never be able to overcome the shame of tolerating the culture of rape? Shouldn't the controversy at Vanderbilt been made public before James Franklin was hired as Penn State's football coach? (NOTE: PENN STATE AND VANDERBILT ARE BEING INVESTIGATED for mishandling and failing to investigate cases of sexual assault) Maybe Penn State trusted the Nashville D.A.'s statement "Franklin's interaction with the alleged rape victim was not significant and that he did nothing inappropriate in the investigation." because then Commonwealth A.G. (now governor running for reelection) Tom Corbett handled the Penn State child molestation / rape investigation so well. From +Sports Illustrated & +BuzzFeed ....
Franklin, who coached at Vanderbilt for three seasons before being hired at Penn State in January 2014, said Wednesday he did not see the cell phone video of the incident, which allegedly took place in the early morning of June 23, 2013. But Franklin testified he told his Vanderbilt team that he saw the video because he did not want to "water down" his message that he was "angry and upset."
From The Patriot-News:
"I had just gotten done meeting with the administration and I didn't want to go in and water my message down to the team," Franklin testified. "I didn't want to say 'I was told (or) I saw a video from somebody else.' That's what I did. I addressed the team and spoke as if I had seen the video because I was angry and upset and I didn't want to water down the message to them.• HAMILTON: Fueled by James Franklin, Penn State can make noise now and in the future
"I did talk about the video as if I had seen it, based on what was described to me from the administration. I didn't think that was the right way to deliver my message to the team at the time."
The four former players have been charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery but have pleaded not guilty.
A Buzzfeed article published in September 2013 cited a source "close to one of the defendants" who said he believes Franklin "encouraged a player to delete a video of the incident after the player showed it to Franklin.” Franklin later called the allegation "baseless."
Defense attorneys for one of the players charged in the case wrote in a filing that Franklin and former Vanderbilt and current Penn State staff member Dwight Galt contacted the victim four days after the incident in the interest of explaining "that they cared about her because she assisted them with recruiting."
The Nashville District Attorney's Office said in May that Franklin's interaction with the alleged rape victim was not significant and that he did nothing inappropriate in the investigation.
- Chris Johnson
“She was in the passenger seat and it was all the way down. She was totally gone,” said a student who lived in Vandenburg’s dorm and saw the Oklahoma woman before she was taken to the second floor of Gillette House, a weathered brick building used primarily for freshmen, where Vandenburg and other football players lived over the summer. The student who saw her passed out didn’t know until weeks later that what was witnessed may have been the prelude of a rape.
Shortly after, several students in the dorm recalled hearing a loud bang, which they later discovered was the sound of the impact that broke a security door through which students entered the second floor. “The middle looked like it had been cracked through and the dry wall had fallen out. It looked like somebody kicked it. It was split right down the middle,” said a student living on Gillette’s third floor.
It’s still not clear why Vandenburg or anyone else involved in the incident would have needed to break down a door Vandenburg could’ve opened with his student ID, but the investigation of the damage quickly led to more serious questions. “Most laypeople cannot break a door frame, so they started looking at the football players,” said one person who is working on the case. Authorities eventually came to believe Vandenburg had intercourse with the Oklahoma woman while she was unconscious, while three other football players said to have been in room at some point in the night were charged as well. A Nashville grand jury is accusing all four of aggravated rape and sexual battery, for which they have all pleaded not guilty. Defense attorneys have pointed out that just because all four have been charged with rape does not mean all four had intercourse with the victim. To use an analogy, two suspects who enter a bank together can be charged with robbery even if only one pulls a gun and demands money.
Sources said that some time after the three other football players entered the room, objects were used to penetrate the victim, though it is not clear which defendants took part in this act. During the alleged assault, according to sources, Vandenburg took pictures and video on his phone, and later sent four individuals the graphic footage.
Vandenburg and the victim are white. The three other players are black. One attorney who has seen all the evidence in the case said the video footage has “a strong racial component” that goes beyond the mere fact of the skin colors of the individuals involved, but would not elaborate on specific details.
The three other football players in the dorm room that night were Cory Batey, 6’1”, 208 pounds from Nashville; Brandon Banks, 5’10”, 165 pounds from Maryland; and JaBorian “Tip” McKenzie, 5’7”, 175 pounds from Mississippi. None of them had ever played a game — Vandenburg was a transfer and the other three had been red-shirted during their freshman season.
There are conflicting reports about where the woman awoke the next morning. Some say she was brought to another room and others think she was kept in Vandenburg’s dorm. Multiple sources say she was moved through the hallway, at least temporarily, while the towel covered the security camera.
Many people close to the investigation told BuzzFeed that the victim did not know what had happened until word of the pictures and video made its way back to her. She saw the images for the first time when shown them by the District Attorney’s Office.
Individuals who know the victim described her as a fun-loving but hard-working student — she’s pursuing ambitious academic goals — who often socialized with and was close to many players on the football team.
After the incident, a somber atmosphere overtook Gillette, students who lived there said. Police went door-to-door questioning students about the night, creating confusion for those who had more questions than answers. Describing the mood in the dorm the next weekend, typically a boisterous time, one student in Gillette said: “It was totally silent. It didn’t make any sense.”
Days after the episode, Vanderbilt announced that four members of the football team had been dismissed from the team in connection with a sex crimes investigation. Soon after, the District Attorney’s Office and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation joined the probe. Almost a month later, on July 15, authorities released the names of the four dismissed players and arrests followed.
In early August, a Davidson County grand jury indicted the four players on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. In addition, prosecutors charged Vandenburg with tampering with evidence and unlawful photography. On Aug. 21, the four players plead not guilty at their initial arraignment.
A second indictment was handed down on Aug. 16 implicating three additional men: one with being an accessory after the fact for supposedly telling Vandenburg via text message to delete the video, and two others with tampering with evidence for, according to sources, deleting video and images of the incident from their phones. One of the men is Chris Boyd, Vanderbilt’s 6’4”, 205-pound star wide receiver who has been suspended. The other two are former teammates of Vandenburg’s from Southern California, Miles Finley and Joey Quinzio.
“Despite what’s happened, students generally really respect Franklin and what he is doing here at Vandy,” said a junior majoring in political science who heard one of Franklin’s private talks. “I don’t think many students at all have changed their perspective on Franklin or the team.”
Franklin’s self-described “extreme personality” is the marvel of players and fans alike. His voluble nature has also garnered unwanted headlines. During a radio interview last June, he said that he doesn’t hire an assistant coach until he sees his wife. “If she looks the part, and she’s a D-1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal.”
On Twitter, Franklin, who has more than 24,000 followers, backpedaled from the comment: “My foot does not taste good, I hope I did not offend any1, I love and respect ALL, have a great day, enjoy the fam & don’t forget to #AnchorDown,” citing the Commodores’ de facto slogan — which Franklin came up with and popularized.
A source close to one of the defendants said he believes that Franklin encouraged a player to delete a video of the incident after the player showed it to Franklin.
“I’m 99.9 percent sure that Franklin saw the video,” the source said. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if the public finds this out soon.”
“Coach Franklin denies that emphatically,” said Hal Hardin, Franklin’s attorney. “People always speculate and gossip. There is no truth to that accusation whatsoever. It’s inflammatory.”
“He has been cooperating fully with the investigation,” Hardin said. Prosecutors believe they have recovered all the images associated with the incident and that no potential evidence was lost before or during the investigation.
All seven individuals accused in the case have posted bail and are no longer in custody. Vandenburg was released Wednesday evening on a $350,000 bond.
On his Twitter page, which has been inactive since a day after the dorm incident, Vandenburg’s bio reads: “Blessed to have such great family and friends. Vanderbilt Football Player. Honors Student. Aspirations to go to the NFL. Praise God! #IAMSECOND #GODFIRST.”
One tweet from Dec. 19 reads: “It’s amazing what happens when you put complete faith in God. He will always open doors for you that you could never open yourself.’”
Vanderbilt has sent a letter to student athletes banning them from the Tin Roof bar. The alleged victim has begun her senior year of classes.
Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman is prosecuting the case for the state. Known as “The Thurmanator,” he is often called on for high-profile murder cases. The players’ next court date is in two weeks. The case is proceeding toward trial, and if plea deals are not reached, the evidence prosecutors have collected could become public.