Law officer in ex-Vanderbilt players rape trial: Defendant put towel over surveillance camera

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — A university police officer testified Wednesday that an ex-Vanderbilt football player on trial for rape placed a towel over a campus surveillance camera on the morning of the incident.

The evidence from Lt. Donnie Harville came during the second day of testimony in the trial of Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey.

They are accused of raping an unconscious coed in a dorm at the Nashville school in June 2013.

Two others charged in the case are expected to testify against them. All have pleaded not guilty.

Harville spent the day testifying about the movements of the woman and the former players. He said Vandenburg put a towel over a surveillance camera.

Prosecutors say the school's surveillance video prompted the investigation, even though the rape is said to have taken place in a dorm room. Video footage shows the woman lying on the floor of a dorm hallway and being photographed in a compromising position.

Also on Wednesday, one of Batey's defense attorneys fought to keep jurors from hearing an allegation that the defendant urinated on the woman and made a racial remark.

"Your honor, the prejudicial value of that is enormous, absolutely enormous," Defense attorney Worrick Robinson said.

It's not clear what Batey is alleged to have said.

His lawyer argued the allegation is wholly uncorroborated and the state's own lab testing found no urine on the clothes.

Prosecutors have argued that rape is an act of power, control and humiliation and that jurors should get a complete picture of what happened.

Judge Monte Watkins ruled that since the crime had no racial undertones, jurors would not be allowed to hear about the alleged racial remark going forward. He said he would revisit the question about the urination testimony later.

Defense attorneys have told jurors that a culture of binge drinking and promiscuous sex is to blame. They say Batey and Vandenburg, who were not legally old enough to drink, were highly intoxicated at the time.

Batey's attorney says there is no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking his client to the act. He told jurors that his client was so intoxicated that night that he blacked out.

Vandenburg's attorney said his client did not actively participate in any of the offenses outlined in the seven rape charges.

Trial resumes Thursday morning. It expected to last two weeks.

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