Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thoughts #24 - Guilty

From time to time, I get serious on this blog.  This is one of those times.

Australia reports news from the US.  Plus, I regularly read skim US news daily.  I hadn't paid close attention to the Vanderbilt rape case until recently while the trial for Vanderburg and Batey was happening.  Since that time, I've read news reports and opinion pieces.  I wasn't there; this is a quick summary based on the articles that I've read.

College student female (name withheld for the privacy of the victim) and college student athlete male (Vandeburg) return to the male's dorm room after a night out drinking heavily.  The female victim was carried into the room by the male.  She was passed out unconscious.  She was sexually assaulted and urinated on by Vandeburg's friends.  Vandeburg instructed, took pictures and video which he forwarded to other friends.  Female victim remembers none of this.  It wasn't until campus security was reviewing video footage in the dorm for another possible crime (theft or burglary) that the case was brought to the attention of authorities.

Photo:  Tennesean file photos

Vandeburg and Batey have been tried and convicted on all charges, including aggravated rape and aggravate sexual battery (awaiting their sentences).  Two others are awaiting trial, and another couple plead to lesser charges because they received images or video and tried to hide it or get rid of it.

If you want to read about the case yourself, just google.  Or read this -> "Vanderbilt rape trial: Defendants found guilty on all charges".  In fact, the Tennesean has complete coverage of the case and trial (Vanderbilt University is located in Tennessee).

I tell you what keeps feeling like a punch in the gut - this could have been me; this could have been one of my close friends.  This poor girl, the victim, didn't know it happened to her until police provided photographic and video proof to her.  She drank a lot.  She couldn't remember.  She may have been drugged (although, there was no evidence to prove this).  But, she claims she still doesn't remember things that she can see for her own eyes did occur based on the photos and videos.  She believed the story from her boyfriend at the time that she got drunk, vomited, passed out, and he had to take care of her.

I have been that girl.  I have been drunk, and vomited, and passed out, and a boyfriend had to take care of me.  More times than I should have.  This girl was on the Vanderbilt dance team; I was on my university's dance team.  I relate to her.  I have been stupid and irresponsible with my alcohol intake.  I've thrown my intelligence and caution out the door and put myself in dangerous and downright dumb places.  I would have assumed that anything that happened to me was my own fault for putting myself in such precarious situations.

Also, I have done incredibly stupid things while intoxicated.  Things I would have never done sober.  I take responsibility for those actions.

Also, I've experienced blackouts where I truly do not remember what has happened.  This is not a good mental place to be.  It is not a good place to put myself in.  It is not good place to be in if someone has manipulated or drugged you into submission.

When I was in university/college, we didn't have cell phones and social media to have photographic or video proof.  How many times has this happened, and no one knew about it?  How many times does this continue to happen?

A few simple rules for ALL of us to remember:
  • It is NOT okay for alcohol or drugs to be used as an excuse for illegal behavior.
  • It is NOT okay to physically or sexually assault someone while they are unconscious.
  • It is NOT okay to stick a water bottle up someone's anus without his/her consent.  (Yes, this is brutal, but this is one of the assaults that happened in this case)
  • It is NOT okay to NOT report an incident if you receive pictures or videos or an unconscious person being physically manhandled and sexually assaulted.
  • It is NOT okay to be involved in such activity but show little to no remorse, or downplay your part and actions in the assault.
  • It is NOT okay to blame the victim.
There are many, many girls in the university system that this could happen to/does happen to. If only there were investigative teams like those in this case to do the right thing.

I have much respect for the legal team that prosecuted this case, the detectives that investigated, and the victim advocates that counseled and continue to work with the victim.  The victim...from everything that I've read, after she realized the extent of what happened, she has faced this with courage and strength.  Her words - a written statement - after the guilty verdicts were announced:
"Thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult process. I'm thankful that the criminal justice system will hold the defendants responsible for their violent crimes. The hard work of the law enforcement officers, prosecutors and victims' advocates who dedicated so many months of their lives to this case has made justice possible.
I want to especially thank detective Jason Mayo, Sgt. Mike Shreeve, Detective Chad Gish, Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman, Assistant District Attorneys Jan Norman and Roger Moore and victims' advocates Wanda Swan, Lt. Rochelle Barrios and Teresa Shearon. You are my heroes and I am so proud of and grateful for each of you.
"I am also hopeful that the publicity this case has received will lead to a discussion of how we can end sexual violence on college campuses. Finally, I want to remind other victims of sexual violence: You are not alone. You are not to blame."
 So many lessons to learn from this one case.  So many lessons.


  1. It's so sad to read about this & know that it most likely happens more than we all know. I just cannot believe these guys that think it's okay to do something like that - that's someone's daughter, someone's sister, etc. Pathetic. Ugh.

    Mandie ~

  2. and vandeburg, upon hearing the verdict, had the audacity to appear shocked and innocent when he'd been found guilty.

    i read about this the other day and was reminded of a steubenville rape case.

    there was a belvedere vodka ad showing a man with his arms around a woman. the man's grinning as he pulls her back. the woman's looking a little horrified. and the text: unlike some things, belvedere vodka always goes down smoothly.


I love comments, and I enjoy our interactions. I respond via email, but if you're a "no reply blogger", I can't. Don't think I'm ignoring you!