James Franklin focus of case filing

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A new defense filing in the case involving rape charges against four former Vanderbilt players claims that then-Commodores and current Penn State coach James Franklin contacted the accuser shortly after the alleged incident. 

The filing prompted a response from Franklin later Tuesday denying he "did something wrong" after defense attorneys for Brandon Vandenburg -- one of four former players charged with five counts of aggravated rape stemming from an alleged on-campus assault of a 21-year-old female student last June -- asked the court to dismiss the charges because the prosecution failed to preserve key evidence.

In the filing, the defense says Franklin and strength coach Dwight Galt -- who left Vanderbilt for the same jobs at Penn State this winter -- talked to the accuser during a medical examination four days after the rape.

Franklin and Galt told the woman "that they cared about her because she assisted them with recruiting," according to the filing. Later, the defense said, "Coach Franklin called her in for a private meeting and told her he wanted her to get 15 pretty girls together and form a team to assist with the recruiting even though he knew it was against the rules."

According to The Tennessean, Franklin "added that all the other colleges did it."

"The allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true," Franklin said in a statement released by Penn State. "I have cooperated fully with the authorities in this matter but, out of respect for the legal process, I am not able to comment any further."

The allegations were contained in the latest filing of a case that has been fractious between prosecutors and defense lawyers, with both sides trading allegations of misconduct.

Vandenburg's attorneys accuse prosecutors of "subterfuge" and say they intentionally concealed evidence from Vandenburg's defense. A spokeswoman for the Davidson County District Attorney's office said in an email to The Associated Press that prosecutors had not seen the filing.

Vandenburg's defense team said in the paperwork filed in Nashville that some of the evidence missing included text messages from Franklin and phone records and call logs from Franklin. Vandenburg is charged with five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of sexual battery, unlawful photography and tampering with evidence. He and the other defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The other former players charged are Cory Batey, Brandon Eric Banks and Jaborian McKenzie.

The paperwork filed by Vandenburg's lawyers says they were given surveillance video from 14 cameras of a Vanderbilt dorm parking lot, dorm hallways and surrounding areas. They say that, after reviewing the video, "it became apparent that material video footage has been intentionally removed." The lawyers allege that about 55 percent of the footage has been removed. They also say a number of other items are missing, including social media, text messages from other witnesses and texts from the phone of the accuser.

Prosecutors also have made serious allegations against the defense. They accused one of Vandenburg's attorneys of causing evidence to be destroyed, and one prosecutor has called a defense attorney an unindicted co-conspirator.

Information from ESPN.com's Brian Bennett and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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