The Vanderbilt Football Rape Case

[TW: rape, gang rape]

At the Atlantic today, I have a piece on NCAA regulations, hostess programs, and gang rape in college football. I’m going to be posting a few supplements to the piece because there was simply too much to say and not enough space for a single article.

First up, the Vanderbilt gang rape case. Here is what I wrote in the piece:

Vanderbilt University has recently dismissed five football players. Four of them have been charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery for allegedly participating in a gang rape of an undergraduate in a dormitory on campus this past June. One of the men accused, Jaborian McKenzie, enrolled at a different university—Alcorn State in Mississippi—after getting out of jail on bail. He played in their September 7game against Mississippi State. (When news broke the following week that the accused rapist was still playing football only at a different university, Alcorn dismissed McKenzie, and its president admitted that the university had “made an error in judgment.”) The fifth player, Chris Boyd, helped to cover up the alleged crime but pleaded guilty and took a plea of a lesser charge. He will testify against his former teammates.

While this is all true, of course, there is much more to this case.

First, Chris Boyd. Vanderbilt will allow him to continue on as a student and retain his scholarship.

Second, what happened that night was…horrific. Here is the narrative of the events that night as told to the court on September 13 by the deputy district attorney (TRIGGER WARNING):

“On June 23, 2013, in the early morning hours, Brandon Vandenburg took an unconscious female Vanderbilt student from the Tin Roof bar to his room in Gillette Hall, which is located on the Vanderbilt campus, here in Nashville, Davidson County. Mr. Vandenburg was joined in the room by Corey Batey, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, where this female student was sexually assaulted by different individuals.

“During one of the aggravated rapes, Mr. Vandenburg sent a text to Mr. Boyd showing the unconscious victim with an object inserted in her anally. Mr. Boyd promptly deleted the text because he didn’t want his girlfriend to see it. Shortly after receiving the text, Mr. Boyd received a phone call from Mr. Vandenburg saying that the victim had been “messed with in the hall” and sexually assaulted in the room, and he needed Mr. Boyd to come over.

“Mr. Vandenburg further stated that he wanted to have sex with the victim but could not get an erection even though he had used cocaine. When Mr. Boyd arrived, he found the victim laying (sic) in the hall, unconscious and not fully clothed. He and two other individuals carried her back into the room and placed her in the bed and left.


“June 23 — Boyd to Vandenburg: “Tell ur boys to delete that (expletive). I’m looking out for your (expletive).”

“Second text: “And tell your roommate he didn’t see (expletive).”

“Third text: Boyd’s girlfriend (unidentified) to Boyd: “How is everything with Brandon”

“Fourth text: Boyd to girlfriend: “Good. I got everything cleared up and I talked to both Tip (McKenzie) and Corey already. Deleted everything. She didn’t remember (expletive) and feels bad.”

“June 24 — Fifth text: Batey to Boyd: “We still good? I’m stressing”

“Sixth text: Batey to Boyd: “Video deleted? Have you talked to her”

“Seventh text: Boyd to Batey: “Nah she doesn’t anything that happened but she passed out in Vandenburg’s bed. Me Carta (Vanderbilt starting QB) and van der Wal (Vanderbilt TE) and Vanderburg help helped us move her out the hallway.”

“Eighth text: Batey to Boyd: “Tell him don’t say nothing to anybody” (return to narrative)

“Mr. Boyd also participated in a meeting with the four defendants involved in the case at the Popeye’s chicken restaurant, where the case was discussed.

“The defendant was not completely truthful with the police or the district attorney’s in initial interviews by omitting details of two conversations he had with Mr. Vandenburg in which Mr. Vandenburg made incriminating statements to Mr. Boyd. He later came forward and gave additional information about these conversations.”

Third, Boyd’s text: “Me Carta (Vanderbilt starting QB) and van der Wal (Vanderbilt TE) and Vanderburg help helped us move her out the hallway.”

On September 17, the office of Susan Niland, spokeswoman for the DA’s office, released this statement:

At the recent plea agreement of former Vanderbilt football player Chris Boyd, text messages were read that Boyd had sent and received from other individuals. One text from Boyd to former student Corey Batey read in part ‘me Carta and Vanderwal (sic) and Vandenburg helped us move her out of the hallway’, referring to the victim who was lying in the hall of the dorm. However, based upon the evidence collected to date, Boyd wrongly identified student Austyn Carta-Samuels as someone who participated in helping move the victim. Carta-Samuels and Dillon Vanderwal (sic) are both listed as witnesses in the rape case against four former Vanderbilt students. Vanderwal (sic) and another student were involved in moving the victim from the hall to a dorm room, but that act alone does not constitute a crime.

So, van der Wal is not charged with a crime and is still on the team (though I cannot find evidence of him having played in their last two games). According to the Vanderbilt football site, van der Wal “made his first reception of the year vs. Austin Peay, a four-yard grab,” in their game on September 7.


There will be a hearing on October 16.

For more on this case, see Buzzfeed’s “An Ugly Rape Case Involving Vanderbilt’s Football Team Could Get Much Uglier.