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Vanderbilt players plead not guilty in rape case

CNN News Wire | 8/21/2013, 1:49 p.m.
Attorneys representing the five Vanderbilt University football players who are facing charges related to the alleged rape of an unconscious ...
Attorneys representing the five Vanderbilt University football players who are facing charges related to the alleged rape of an unconscious 21-year-old woman entered not guilty pleas on behalf of their clients Wednesday, August 21, 2013. The group arraigned Wednesday included Brandon Vandenburg, Corey Batey, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, who were charged this month in connection to the alleged sexual assault that police say occurred in one of the school's dormitories on June 23.

Attorneys representing the five Vanderbilt University football players who are facing charges related to the alleged rape of an unconscious 21-year-old woman entered not guilty pleas on behalf of their clients Wednesday.

All of the players waived their right to appear in court for their arraignments Wednesday. The purpose of an arraignment is to inform defendants of the crimes they are charged with and to provide an opportunity for the accused to enter a plea with the court.

The group arraigned Wednesday included Brandon Vandenburg, Corey Batey, Brandon Banks and Jaborian McKenzie, who were charged this month in connection to the alleged sexual assault that police say occurred in one of the school’s dormitories on June 23. The university subsequently dismissed them from the football team and suspended them from school.

Each of the four men is charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Police say the alleged rape took place in Vandenburg’s dorm. Vandenburg is also charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.

A fifth football player, Chris Boyd, who is a rising star on the team, was also arraigned in a separate court Wednesday. Boyd is not charged with rape or sexual assault, but he is facing one felony count of being an accessory after the fact for his alleged role in a cover-up of the crime for giving advice to other defendants, police say.

All five cases have a settlement discussion scheduled for September 19, when parties will attempt to negotiate and discuss the status of the cases.

Police have also charged two of Vandenburg’s acquaintances in the case. Miles Joseph Finley and Joseph Dominick Quinzio are each charged with one felony count of tampering with evidence.

University spokeswoman Beth Fortune said Boyd was suspended from the football team, “pursuant to the athletic department conduct policy,” after he was charged Friday.

More charges could be filed as the investigation into the alleged rape continues. Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson told CNN on Friday the case is “open and active.”

“We are looking at all persons who may have been involved in this event before, during and after the fact,” he said. “Additional charges cannot be ruled out.”

Graham Winch | HLNtv.com