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Crime

Vanderbilt Rape Trial: Defense Blames Alcohol and Campus Culture

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Samuel M. Simpkins/AP

Closing arguments for the rape trial against two former Vanderbilt football players are expected to begin on Monday.

Brandon Vandenburg, 21, and Cory Batey, 20, are accused of sexually assaulting a young woman last June. Prosecutors say the two football players, who are each charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery, took pictures of the incident and recorded it.

A graphic video of the alleged assault, captured on Vandenburg’s cell phone, was played in court for the jury last week while the victim, who is not being identified, testified. “That’s me,” she said.

The victim told the court that she initially did not believe she had been raped. Vandenburg, whom she’d been seeing at the time, told her she’d just gotten drunk and that he’d had to take care of her.

“He told me that I had gotten sick in his room and he had to clean it up and that it was horrible and that he had to spend all night taking care of me and that it was horrible,” she testified, while her alleged rapists looked on.

“I apologized. I was embarrassed,” she added.

It was only once she saw the horrific video, as well as surveillance footage of her unconscious body being dragged into Vandenburg’s dorm room, that she realized what had happened.

Attorneys for the defense have blamed the alleged assault on alcohol and campus culture.

Forensic psychologist Dr. James Walker testified Friday that Vandenburg could have been so drunk that he had no idea what he was doing, The Tennessean reports.

“He was so intoxicated he was not his normal self,” Walker said. “He was doing things he would not normally have done.”

One of the more disturbing details that this trial has brought to light is that several people were aware of what happened the night of June 23, 2013, and did nothing, according to CBS News.

“At that age peer pressure is critical,” Walker testified, “because you’re just going out on your own, you’re not fully an adult, you’re not fully a child You tend to take on the behavior of people around you.”

Two other football players – Brandon E. Banks and Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie – have been charged as well and are awaiting trial. All four have pleaded not guilty.