Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Verdict

I listened to the closing arguments in the 12-day Vanderbilt Rape Trial yesterday and then went about my day thinking there wouldn't be a decision until much later in the week. Much to my surprise, the jury reached an agreement in only three hours! The Defendants, Vanderberg and Batey were convicted of almost all charges.

Vanderberg was convicted of four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated battery, tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.

Batey was also convicted of four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated battery. 

I am so happy with the jury's decision and I truly think they were given what they deserved for their despicable acts.  I had a feeling that our judicial system would make an example of them. Their prison sentences will be announced in March.

The Vanderbilt football players charged in this case

I am glad that I was able to watch so much of this trial and the testimonies because this was one of the craziest crime stories that I've ever heard of. It also was extra disturbing to me because I live in Nashville and have been to the bars, apartments and college campus involved in this story.

The victim showed extreme bravery in getting up in front of live television and testifying her story on the witness stand. Her bravery and strength probably had a major impact of the jury's decisions.

The victim wrote a statement to the media that was read by the State's attorneys yesterday. She wrote, 

"Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult process. I am thankful that the criminal justice system will hold the defendants responsible for their violent crimes. I am also hopeful that the publicity this case has received will lead to a discussion of how we can end sexual violence on college campuses. Finally, I want to remind other victims of sexual violence: you are not alone. You are not to blame."

Although the defense attorneys tried to use culture and alcohol consumption as an excuse for their clients' violent behavior, it wasn't convincing to the jury. 

Hopefully young people can look at this story as a cautionary tale. If this can happen on a campus as prestigious as Vanderbilt, it can happen anywhere. Women should watch their drinks (for GHB, etc.) and how much they drink, because the Victim couldn't even trust the person she was dating (Vanderberg) in her time of need. 

Young men can look at this story and see that there are consequences for their actions- it looks like these two 21-year-old defendants will be serving around 20 years in prison. 

It is also a lesson on surrounding yourself with good people- Vanderberg got his 2 best friends in California charged with felonies (tampering with evidence). His roommate had to testify on the witness stand (on national television) just because he shared a room with him. I bet they REALLY wish they had never befriended or even encountered Vanderberg now.

 The friends and Vanderbilt athletes charged in this case

Also, we should all learn from this how important it is to take care of each other and to look out for each other. I would feel horrible to be the victim's roommate and friends who left her at the bar that night. She did not deserve what happened to her and this could have happened to anyone who decided to drink at the Tin Roof or the Vanderbilt Campus that evening.

Readers, what did you think of this case and the jury's verdict? Let me know your thoughts! 

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