Back in 2013, a group of four Vanderbilt University football players were charged with the rape of an unconscious 21-year-old female student. It was a nasty echo of the Steubenville rape case just a few months prior.
The victim was allegedly raped as one of the men, Brandon Vandenburg, then the boyfriend of the victim, took cellphone videos and photos that he later shared. Surveillance video which allegedly shows the men dragging the unconscious victim from a car to a dorm is a key piece of evidence for prosecutors. The victim says she later could not remember what happened and, according to text messages between the four men read in court, the group staged a cover-up of the crime.
It’s taken many months but the trail of two of the accused men — Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg — began this week. Vandenburg was allegedly the victim’s boyfriend at the time of the crime.
It’s a landmark case, one that’s going to set a real precedent for the way to handle rape issues on campus. Evidence from the case has largely been kept secret up to this point, so the trial is bound to be an eye-opener. Some of that evidence is the photo or video footage Vandenburg took, which will be presented to a jury but not released to the public during the trial.
If you want to follow along — and you should — there are several good ways to do so. The first is to follow the hashtag #vandytrial on Twitter, where multiple reporters are posting live updates on the actions in court.
Also, follow The Tennessean reporter Tony Gonzalez, who’s live-tweeting the trial.
And finally, you can follow along the entire court proceedings at the livestream here. This is one of those news stories that we wish was not happening, but it is and we cannot ignore it. Important precedents are being set here, and with campus rape and gender descrimination so heavily in the conversation it’s crucial to know what’s going on.