Jury finds former Vanderbilt football player guilty of rape

A jury on Friday convicted a former Vanderbilt University football player charged along with three of his teammates in the 2013 gang rape of an unconscious female student.

After about 15 hours of deliberation over two days, the jury found Brandon Banks guilty of one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery. He was found not guilty on five other counts.

“He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, told The Tennessean after the verdict. “We have some really good issues to raise.”

Prosecutors leaned on graphic photos and videos, some shot by Banks and others by his teammates, to rebut the 23-year-old’s argument that he feared he would get beat up if he didn’t participate in the assault.

The players were encouraging each other, laughing and smiling, prosecutors said. Banks contended that if he didn’t join in, he would face a beating — if not right away, then at practice or some other time. He said a player “can’t escape that football atmosphere.”

Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said during the trial that Banks made a choice to participate. He also left the woman lying on the ground in the hallway in the early morning hours, “like a piece of trash laid out for the garbage collectors to pick up,” Moore said.

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