One of the two former Vanderbilt football players on trial for raping an unconscious student in a dorm room has been accused of urinating on the woman while she was passed out.
But while the claims against Cory Batey were mentioned in opening statements on Tuesday, on Wednesday one of his lawyers argued that jurors should not have heard the allegation.
‘Your honor, the prejudicial value of that is enormous, absolutely enormous,’ Worrick Robinson said as he battled to keep the claim out of court. The judge said they would revisit the issue.
Batey is on trial for rape with fellow former football player Brandon Vandenburg, who is accused of encouraging three players to assault the woman, who had been his date that night, in June 2013.
Both Batey and Vandenburg – as well as the two other men – have pleaded not guilty.
The two others, Jaborian ‘Tip’ McKenzie and Brandon Banks, are expected to testify against Batey and Vandenburg.
Batey’s lawyers said that the claim he urinated on the woman – as well as another claim that he made a racial statement – came from one of the two men set to testify against their friends.
Defense attorneys have said McKenzie and Banks have repeatedly changed their stories and are only testifying to help themselves.
Judge Monte Watkins ruled that jurors would not hear about the alleged racial statement because there are no racial undertones to the case.
Batey and two of the former ex-players are black. Vandenburg is white. It is not clear what the statement was.
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 after the rape.
But 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 corroborating evidence.
According to published accounts, on June 23, 2013, Vandenburg, a star player who had recently transferred to Vanderbilt from College of the Desert in California, took the 21-year-old student to a bar called Tin Roof, and on the ride back the player’s date reportedly passed out in the car.
Several Vanderbilt students stated that the woman was then carried to Vandenburg’s room on the second floor of Gillette House, where she was allegedly raped by a group of young men.
Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman told Tennessee jurors that Vandenburg and Batey giggled, shot video and sent text messages while they sexually abused her.
He described in sometimes graphic detail how one former player violated the female student with a water bottle while a teammate egged him on. The prosecutor said one of the players passed out condoms and raped her.
During the opening statements, the alleged victim, an Oklahoma native, sat in the audience wiping her eyes with a tissue. She is expected to take the stand as a witness for the prosecution.
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.
Vandenburg and Batey are being tried on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg is also charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.
The defense will blame alcohol and a culture of binge drinking and sexual promiscuity on campus.
Robinson also told jurors that there is no evidence of Batey’s DNA in the dorm room and no evidence of his fingerprints on a condom box.
One of Vandenburg’s attorneys said evidence would show that his client was not responsible for what someone else did to the woman, who allegedly was his date that night.
The case comes in the midst of a roiling debate about the prevalence of rape on campuses of the nation’s colleges and universities. The Obama administration launching its own campaign to end sexual assault on America’s campuses.
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