Jury finds ex-Vanderbilt football player guilty of aggravated rape, sexual battery
WXYZ
Brandon Banks

By Katie Grunik, WZTV

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- (AP) -- A jury found Brandon Banks guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery Friday for his role in the rape an unconscious woman in a Vanderbilt University dorm room.

After more than 15 hours of deliberation, the jury delivered the guilty verdict on two of the seven counts filed against Banks. The guilty verdict carries a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Banks was taken to jail following the sentencing and will serve at minimum the full 15 years of his sentence.

"This case has always been about the conscious choices and decisions these young men made on that night," said Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman. "It was never about anything else. The fact that they were Vanderbilt football players at the time should not overshadow the decisions they made when they decided to commit a violent crime."

Prosecutors said they're very appreciative of the jury's thoughtful decision. They became concerned at the length of the deliberation in the case but said they ultimately have faith in the justice system and its process.

When speaking about the victim, Norman described her as one of the strongest people she knows.

"Every time that we've been here, she continues to amaze me that she is so strong and she continues to get stronger every single time that we've had to do this," Norman said. "She is truly an amazing person and resilient."

Metro Detective Chad Gish agreed, speaking highly of the victim's strength throughout the trials.

"It's mind boggling what she has had to put up with," Gish said. "She is a true pillar of strength and my hero. I hope my daughter grows up as strong as she is."

Banks' attorney argued at the trial this week that Banks was threatened by teammates and bullied into his role in the rape. Following Friday's verdict, the defense said it plans to take all the necessary steps to pursue an appeal after the August sentencing.

"We never expected realistically that he would be found not guilty on all seven counts," said Mark Scruggs, one of Banks' attorneys. "It happens the two he was found guilty on are offenses for which you cannot have bail pending appeal, and they have mandatory jail time."

Scruggs said this is not something that Banks was not prepared for, and he is prepared to "fight this thing as long as it takes."

"At first he was in shock, like anyone," Scruggs said. "We had talked about this over and over, and he knew this was a possibility. So, he is prepared, and he's not going to give it up. He's going to continue on fighting."

FULL STORY: Jury finds ex-Vanderbilt football player guilty of aggravated rape, sexual battery - WXYZ / AP

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