Vanderbilt Football Coach Made 'Nice' Phone Call To Woman His Players Are Accused of Raping

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In the midst of investigations into sexual assault on college campuses and how they are handled (or mishandled) by administrators, comes the news that the football coach at Vanderbilt University, one of 55 schools cited for Title IX violations, contacted the woman several of his players are charged with raping.

But don't worry: the district attorney prosecuting the case, Tom Thurman, thinks it's fine. In fact, it's "a pretty nice thing to do." 

James Franklin and his wife apparently called the woman a few days after she reported being raped by four of his players -- Brandon Banks, Cory Batey, Tip McKenzie and Brandon Vandenburg -- last summer. Those players were later expelled, arrested and have been charged with rape. A fifth player, Chris Boyd, was also expelled and pled guilty to attempting to cover up the crime. Thurman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Franklin and wife "said they were praying for her and thinking about her," which was "probably a pretty nice thing to do." 

There were concerns that Franklin might have been trying to influence the case with the call, but Thurman said "there is no indication that coach Franklin did anything inappropriate in this investigation." One wonders, though, how thrilled the woman was to hear from the coach of the four men she'd just accused of raping her.

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According to court filings from one of the accused players, Franklin and Dwight Galt, the "director of performance enhancement," called the woman to say they "cared about her because she assisted them with recruiting." How did she assist them with recruiting? From the filing:

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. He added that all the other colleges did it.

Thurman didn't see a problem with that, either, saying he wasn't sure if "hostess-type programs" were against SEC rules. Franklin has denied doing anything wrong. In 2012, however, Franklin apologized for saying in a radio interview that one of the things he looked for in an assistant coach was that he had an attractive wife.

Franklin left Vanderbilt early this year to become the head football coach at Penn State.

"Recruiting is so important," Franklin said in January, shortly after his new job was announced.


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.