NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gave some perspective on Tuesday’s verdict in the high-profile Vanderbilt University rape case.
Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, both former football players at the school, were found guilty of raping Vandenburg’s then-girlfriend inside his campus dorm room on June 23, 2013.
Vandenburg was found guilty on four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count each of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.
Batey was found guilty on four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery.
Gonzales, now the dean of Belmont University’s law school, said the verdict sends a message to three audiences.
First, to the athlete: If you engage in this kind of activity, there are consequences.
Second, to the victim: If you are sexually assaulted or raped, you can get justice.
Third, to universities: There is an obligation to report these things so that just can be achieved.
“We care about the safety of our students to the extent that if our students engage in conduct that is unlawful there have to be consequences,” Gonzales stated.
The former U.S. Attorney General has dealt with a lot of criminal cases while working under George W. Bush.
He said Tuesday’s verdict should be an eye opener, pointing to statements like the following:
“What was the culture for Cory Batey? The culture encouraged underage drinking, drinking in your room, going to a party and then going to another party. You stay out late. You get drunk. You have sex. It’s not important if you remember it. It actually seems to be funnier or more light-hearted and laughable if you don’t remember it,” Batey’s attorney Worrick Robinson said during closing arguments Monday.
Gonzales said that, to him, that is a very sad statement.
“To the extent if it’s true, then these kinds of verdicts are the best way to change that culture,” he explained. “It’s the best way to educate young men that they can’t engage in this kind of conduct with young women. So in that sense, it’s very, very important to society to have these kinds of verdicts to bring to justice this kind of conduct.”
Gonzales also said there is “no question about it” that cell phones and social media changed the scope of the Vanderbilt rape trial.
“We definitely live in a different world today and I think those are very powerful in terms of making the prosecutor’s case,” he elaborated.
Vandenburg and Batey are scheduled to be sentenced on March 6.