New allegations have surfaced that accuse Penn State coach James Franklin of contacting the victim allegedly raped by four Vanderbilt University football players when he was the head coach at the Tennessee school and he denies any wrongdoing. Defense attorneys for one of the players—Brandon Vandenburg—charged in the case filed a motion Tuesday asking the judge to dismiss the case as a result because the prosecution “failed to secure vital evidence.” The coach’s association with the woman also reportedly extended to his asking her to help him in recruiting other players by gathering a team of pretty girls, a violation of NCAA rules.
Franklin has since denied any wrongdoing in a statement released by Penn State, saying that he has fully cooperated with authorities in the case, but could not comment any further. The twenty-four page motion filed by the defense contends that Franklin, along with strength coach Dwight Galt, contacted the 21-year-old four days after the alleged rape during a medical examination. The attorneys charge that he and Galt, who are both now coaches at Penn State, told the woman that they cared about her and then later in the same conversation invited the woman in for a private meeting where they asked her to get a team of pretty girls together for recruiting purposes. Franklin, the attorneys asserted, told the woman that he knew it was against the rules, but all the other schools did it too.
The defense further claimed that evidence missing in the discovery included, among other things, over half of the film captured by campus surveillance cameras, the majority of over 27,000 messages and 220 calls to the alleged victim’s phone, police records containing interviews with friends of the alleged victim, text messages from Vandenburg to the woman, and text messages and phone records exchanged between the alleged victim and staff members Franklin, Galt, and Kevin Colon, associate director athletics at Vanderbilt. Attorneys claim that the woman and a friend may have destroyed some of the evidence from the alleged rape. The District Attorney’s Office has denied the charges made in the motion and called them baseless. Prosecutors have also dismissed the notion that Franklin viewed video of the incident on a player’s cell phone or participated in any cover-up of the alleged crime.
Vandenburg and three other men, Cory Batey, Brandon Eric Banks, and Jaborian McKenzie were charged with aggravated assault and aggravated sexual battery stemming from the June 2013 incident. Vandenburg is also charged with unlawful photography and tampering with evidence. Another member of the football team, Chris Boyd, reportedly pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of trying to aid in a cover-up. According to prosecutors, the four men raped the unconscious woman in the early morning hours of June 23, 2013 and Boyd and one of his former teammates carried the woman, who was partially nude, into the dorm room of one of the men who allegedly assaulted her. Franklin was hired as the Penn State head coach earlier this year in January amid the scandal and the school’s officials praised his handling of the situation. He dismissed all four players charged in the case, as well as Boyd for his role in the cover-up.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat