Two Vanderbilt football players were convicted of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery earlier this week, for the terrible rape of an unconscious woman back in 2013. Now, the defense attorney for that case wants the verdict vacated because one of the jurors was herself a rape victim. According to ABC News, she did not disclose that during jury selection. The defense is claiming, more or less, that her past influenced the jury’s decision to convict.
ABC News chose not to identify the juror in question, but said that her attorney said her “past situation has zero similarity to the facts presented within the Vanderbilt trial… nor did the past situation have any impact upon deliberations or decision-making in this case.”
The brutal rape at Vanderbilt was played out in video evidence over the course of the 12-day trial. This past Tuesday, the jury took a mere three hours to decide the verdict. Brandon Vandenburg, the man whose attorney is working to get the guilty verdict vacated, did not actually participate, but he did take video and send it to friends, instead of taking action to stop the rape from happening. He was also found guilty of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography, after sending the video to friends and then asking them to get rid of it.
If his attorney’s decision to try and get the verdict vacated was based on that, then maybe, perhaps, there wouldn’t be as much of a problem here. But some jurors specifically said that the video evidence, which was quite graphic, is what led to their decision to convict. According to a different story on ABC News, juror Todd Easter said:
As soon as we saw the videos and photographic evidence … we knew exactly who was guilty of what and what we were going to come back with. What we knew was that a terrible crime had occurred.
Worse, the defense tried to claim that, despite the various acts of forced penetration of an unconscious 21-year old woman, the players weren’t actually guilty of rape, but rather, of simply making a mistake. What was that mistake, though? Creating a trail of video evidence of their horrific act? Is this a case of “be careful what you put on the Internet, or send to your friends?” Is raping an unconscious woman a mere “mistake?” Please.
The fact that the defense attorney wants the verdict vacated is nothing short of sick, and calls his motivations as an attorney into question. His job is to cast sufficient doubt on the prosecution’s case to warrant a “not-guilty” verdict, yes, but when his client is clearly guilty of the crime of which he has been accused, the attorney’s job is different. Considering how quickly the jury came back with their verdict, and the reason they chose to convict (clear, graphic video evidence), it’s hard to justify saying that one woman’s experience as a rape victim influenced the verdict at all.
Watch three of the jurors tell ABC News why they decided to convict below:
H/T Salon | Featured image via screen capture from ABC News video