NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With testimony underway in the rape trial of two ex-Vanderbilt University football players, a defense attorney fought Wednesday to keep jurors from hearing allegations that his client urinated on an unconscious coed during the attack.
Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey are being tried this week for rape. They and two other former players who are charged have pleaded not guilty.
The case comes in the midst of a roiling debate about the prevalence of rape on campuses of the nation’s colleges and universities with the Obama administration launching its own campaign to end sexual assault on America’s campuses.
During opening statements on Tuesday, a prosecutor told jurors that Batey made a racial statement and urinated on the incapacitated female in a player’s dorm room at the Nashville school.
One of Batey’s lawyers objected during the opening statements, and argued Wednesday that jurors should not have heard the allegation.
“Your honor, the prejudicial value of that is enormous, absolutely enormous,” Worrick Robinson said.
His lawyer argued the allegation is wholly uncorroborated and comes from another former player who is charged in the case. Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Banks are also charged and are expected to testify against Vandenburg and Batey. Defense attorneys have said the two have repeatedly changed their stories and are only testifying to help themselves.
Vandenburg, who dated the woman, is accused of encouraging the others to rape her in June 2013 while she was passed out from drinking too much alcohol.
The judge, however, said they would revisit the allegations about the urination later.
Prosecutors have argued that rape is an act of power, control and humiliation and jurors should hear the allegations that Batey urinated on the woman. Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman said it was the final act in the attack in the dorm room.
Robinson, the defense attorney, said there was no evidence of urine in the room.
Watkins ruled that the allegation of the urination could only be introduced if there was other evidence.
Testimony so far has come from friends of the woman who saw her earlier that evening and from Vanderbilt police showing surveillance video from inside the dorm. TAS