Vanderbilt's Boyd pleads guilty in rape cover-up
Updated On: Sep 14 2013 11:40:16 AM CDT
Suspended Vanderbilt football star Chris Boyd admitted Friday to helping cover up an alleged on-campus gang rape, accepted a yearlong probation sentence and agreed to testify against four men accused directly in the crime.
After prosecutors laid out the case against him, Boyd pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory after the fact. As part of his plea deal, Boyd said he will willingly pay court costs, face 11 months and 29 days of unsupervised probation and "testify truthfully" against the men he helped last June.
Beyond giving some closure to Boyd -- a suburban Atlanta native who had been on the official "watch list" for the Biletnikoff Award, which is given annually to college football's top wide receiver, prior to his suspension from the Commodores -- Friday's court hearing also revealed information about the prosecutors' case against the four former Vanderbilt players charged with rape.
Early on June 23, Davidson County Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman alleged in court, Brandon Vandenburg took an unconscious Vanderbilt student into a building on campus. He was joined in his dorm room by three others also charged with rape -- Corey Batey, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie -- Thurman said.
"Different individuals" then sexually assaulted the young woman, the prosecutor said, as captured by CNN affiliate WSMV. Vandenburg texted the 21-year-old Boyd a picture of her, which Boyd promptly erased so his girlfriend wouldn't see it, Thurman said.
Soon after that text, Vandenburg called Boyd "saying the victim had been messed with in the hall and sexually assaulted in the room, and he needed Mr. Boyd to come over," Thurman said.
"Mr. Vandenburg further stated that he wanted to have sex with the victim, but he could not get an erection even though he used cocaine," added the prosecutor.
Boyd went over and, with two other people, moved the woman -- who was lying in the hall unconscious, partially clothed -- to a room, put her on a bed, then left, Thurman said.
Subsequently, Boyd exchanged texts with Vandenburg and Batey, Thurman said. In one, Boyd said, "Tell the boys to delete that sh**. I'm looking out for your a**." Boyd also texted his girlfriend that he "got everything cleared up" and "deleted everything," Thurman said.
More texts followed the next day, including one in which Boyd detailed how he had helped move the young woman and said "she doesn't know anything that happened." Boyd also talked about it with Vandenburg, Batey, Banks and McKenzie at a Popeye's restaurant, Thurman said.
"The defendant was not completely truthful with the police or the district attorney's office in his initial interviews," the prosecutor said. "... He later came forward and gave additional information."
Asked later by a judge if Thurman's presentation was correct, Boyd replied, "Yes, sir."
His lawyer, Roger May, after the hearing described Boyd as "a 21-year-old young man that was forced with making a decision in a situation that he did not fully understand."
"He is paying for that decision," May added, "and he will be paying for it the rest of his life."
Thurman said after the hearing that, if Boyd was convicted, he probably would have gotten a 1-year sentence given his clean criminal record. "I don't know how good a deal it is for him," the prosecutor told reporters.
Vanderbilt spokeswoman Beth Fortune said later Friday that Boyd remains enrolled at the school, though he is still suspended from its football team, "pending further review by the university."
The incident came to light when university officials checking the dorm's hallway surveillance recordings regarding an unrelated situation observed unusual behavior by the defendants, police said. That prompted a notification to campus police on June 26. That same day, Vanderbilt University police called Nashville police into the investigation.
Four days later, Vandenburg, Batey, Banks and McKenzie were dismissed from the football team and suspended from the university. The university and city police announced the dismissals but did not identify the players at that time.
The four young men now each face five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg was also charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.
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