Prosecutor: Someone trying to intimidate Vanderbilt rape victim
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
The district attorney's office is concerned someone is trying to intimidate the alleged victim in the Vanderbilt rape case, and the Channel 4 I-Team found defense attorneys and prosecutors agree it could jeopardize the fairness of a trial.
In an exclusive interview with the Channel 4 I-Team, Davidson County prosecutor Tom Thurman says he is now very concerned about the case against the four former players accused of raping an unconscious student in a campus residence hall.
"It's an attempt to intimidate our victim, I think, to release the information," said Thurman.
The Tennessean reported in December 2013 the victim initially told police she didn't think she had been raped. But prosecutors have said she was unconscious at the time of the alleged attack and suspect Brandon Vandenburg has even been charged with taking pictures of what was going on.
Thurman tells the Channel 4 I-Team the victim is fully cooperating with the investigation.
"She is a very strong young woman, very willing to go forward in this case," said Thurman.
Both Thurman and defense attorney Worrick Robinson, who represents defendant Cory Batey, say they have learned other confidential information may have been released publicly.
They won't go in to detail about what that information is.
"I believe, absolutely, that somewhere someone has intentionally distributed the evidence in an attempt to manipulate the public opinion," said Robinson.
The attorney representing the victim in this case said they don't want to comment at this time but told us they are fully supportive of Thurman and his team.
The Channel 4 I-Team also contacted Vandenburg's defense team for comment about concerns from the prosecutor and other defense attorneys, but attorney John Herbison said that's "bizarre."
"What has been put out recently suggests that no crime occurred at all, and to suggest any defendant has been prejudiced by that is ridiculous," said Herbison.
The Channel 4 I-Team asked Herbison for more information, but he refused, citing previous reporting about his defense team.
Batey's attorney has told the Channel 4 I-Team that he wants his client tried separately from defendant Vandenburg, and he may also try to get a change of venue, saying his client can't get a fair trial now.
That's something Thurman says could happen.
"It will be up to the court to determine if that occurs in this case, and, obviously, it could prejudice the state's right to a fair trial also," said Thurman.
The Channel 4 I-Team also talked with the attorney for defendant Brandon Banks, who said he is also very concerned about these latest developments.
We should mention that Channel 4 is part of a media coalition suing to gain access to certain documents in this case we believe should be public record.
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