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Judge Declares Mistrial In Vanderbilt Rape Case

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of two former Vanderbilt football players who were found guilty of rape in January.

Defense attorneys for Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey said a juror intentionally withheld information he was raped. The juror said he didn't consider himself a rape victim because the sex, which occurred when he was 16, was consensual. His parents were the ones who pressed charges, the juror said. The Associated Press reports that a Sumner County, Tenn., man was convicted of raping the juror.

As Blake Farmer of member station WPLN in Nashville tells our Newscast unit, "The judge saw it differently, saying in his ruling that 'The system of justice cannot tolerate a tainted juror regardless of the strength of evidence against a defendant.'"

That evidence, as Bill reported in January, included cellphone video of the 2013 assault in a dorm room. The jury found the two former members of the Vanderbilt University football team guilty of multiple counts of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery.

In jury selection, prospective jurors were asked about any past experiences with sexual assault. This juror said he had none.

Here's more from the AP about the juror:

"[He] acknowledged that he had a sometimes abusive relationship with the man who was convicted of raping him. He said the two engaged in sexual activity more than 100 times, and that the man — who was seven years older than [him] — threatened to harm him when he broke off the four-month relationship. Authorities said [he] went to his mother out of concern and she and her husband contacted authorities. [He] testified that he was against his parents pressing charges and that he even met with the man again after he was charged."

WPLN's Farmer reports the result of today's mistrial ruling could be a new trial before an entirely new jury. The two convicted football players will now appear before a judge and ask for bail to be reinstated.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.