Four college football players from one of the U.S.'s elite schools have pleaded innocent in absentia to charges of sexual assault and rape.
Brandon Vandenburg, Cory Batey, Brandon Banks, and JaBorian "Tip" McKenzie were all indicted of aggravated rape and sexual battery, following an incident in one of Vanderbilt University's dorms. The four, who were members of the Vanderbilt football team, have been dismissed from the team.
Another player, wide receiver Chris Boyd, was charged as an accessory to the case. Boyd has been suspended from the team, which began the season with a loss against Ole Miss on Aug 29.
What started out as a dorm scene typical of campuses around the world -- smashed windows, drunken students, wild partying -- has the potential to become the next Duke or Steubenville scandal.
It appears that there was nothing normal about multiple men, all members of the entering and exiting one particular dorm room. Security officials also saw Vandenburg, a new recruit out of junior college, throwing a towel over the camera installed in the hallway. The four allegedly took pictures and video of the incident and spread it around campus.
The victim, a current student, was not aware of what happened until it was brought to her attention.
The Commodores' coach, James Franklin, brushed aside allegations of a cover-up, saying that an earlier report was composed of "baseless statements".
School officials have been hush-hush about what really happened inside Gillette Hall one summer Saturday night. Vanderbilt is considered one of the finest universities in the southern United States, and they might be keen to protect the school's reputation.
No matter what the outcome of the investigation is, there is no question that Vanderbilt will be tainted with scandal, which is similar to what happened to the Duke lacrosse program and Steubenville High School football team.
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