NASHVILLE – A district attorney said Wednesday that defence attorneys representing a former Vanderbilt football player accused of rape have filed court documents with baseless allegations designed to intimidate the victim and malign prosecutors.
The remarks by Davidson County District Attorney Torry Johnson cane a day after defence attorneys filed documents accusing prosecutors of destroying or not preserving evidence in the case. The defence motion had asked that charges against former football player Brandon Vandenburg be dismissed while accusing prosecutors of intentionally concealing evidence from the defence.
Vandenburg and three other former players are accused of gang raping a student in a campus dorm in June. All have pleaded not guilty to charges.
The case has become increasingly rancorous with both the defence and prosecution trading allegations of misconduct against one another.
“This is an obvious tactical ploy by Mr. Vandenburg’s attorneys to intimidate the victim and malign veteran prosecutors and experienced police detectives by circulating unfounded allegations that not only can taint a potential jury pool but also prevent the state of Tennessee and the victim from obtaining a fair trial,” Johnson said in a statement.
The statement added that Johnson’s office had given attorneys for all four former plays “complete access to the investigative file” as the materials have become available.
Johnson added that the defence’s claims will be addressed fully in court and his office remains committed to providing all defence attorneys full and open discovery in the case.
Vandenburg, 20, is charged with five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, unlawful photography and tampering with evidence.
Vandenburg’s attorneys accused prosecutors of “subterfuge” and said they intentionally concealed evidence from his defence. The defence claimed that missing video footage from Vanderbilt campus cameras had been removed and there were other missing items, including texts from the phone of the alleged victim.
Those attorneys also claimed that some of the missing evidence was text messages from then-Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and phone records and call logs from Franklin.
The defence filings said the alleged victim told detectives that then-coach Franklin contacted the woman days after the alleged assault, telling her “they cared about her” because she assisted with recruiting. The paperwork didn’t elaborate.
The legal filing also stated, “Coach Franklin called her in for a private meeting and told her he wanted her to get 15 pretty girls together and form a team to assist with the recruiting even though he knew it was against the rules.”
Franklin, who is now football coach at Penn State, denied he did anything wrong.
“The allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true,” he said in a statement, adding he was co-operating with authorities.
Associated Press writers Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., and Daniel Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.