The rape conviction this week of Brandon Vandenburg could be thrown out, if Vandenburg’s defense team gets their way. Vandenburg, a former Xavier Prep and COD football player, was convicted in Tennessee for the attack that happened at Vanderbilt University. News Channel 3 spoke exclusively with a life-long friend of the Vandenburg family, who remains hopeful for a different result. “He was looking forward to his future and possibly going professional,” said Al Michaels, a family friend. “You know, where is all that now? Gone.”
Michaels has known the Vandenburg family for nearly 30 years, before Brandon was born and before a Tuesday court ruling in Nashville found Brandon, along with former Vanderbilt teammate Cory Batey, guilty of multiple counts of rape. One juror spoke out on the disturbing video evidence Vandenburg took the night of the rape. “I asked myself, ‘how could they do this to this young lady?’ There just can’t be enough explanation for me,” confessed Dr. Deirdre Young, a juror in the trial.
But the verdict that may put Vandenburg in prison for decades could now be in question. Defense attorneys want the guilty verdict thrown out after discovering one of the jury members was a victim of statutory rape fifteen years ago and didn’t reveal it during the jury selection process. Local defense attorney David Greenberg said that’s something that wouldn’t have slipped by the defense team. “It is not acceptable for jurors to not disclose everything, to not tell everything when they’re asked, and there’s no question they would’ve been asked that piece during jury selection in this case.” A lawyer for the juror in question issued a statement to ABC News, stating the “past situation has zero similarity to the facts presented within the Vanderbilt trial… nor did the past situation have any impact upon deliberations or decision-making in this case.”
According to Greenberg, in California it’s hard to appeal a ruling where evidence is so overwhelming that the juror in question necessarily wouldn’t have mattered. But now, the job of Vandenburg’s defense is to convince a court of appeals that it does matter. Because of that, Brandon’s father, Rod, holds out hope for his son. “Last night I spoke to Rod, he seems to be taking things pretty well at this point,” added Michaels. He went on, “but as any parent, like I said, our sons grew up together. They’re the same age. You know, it’s devastating for his life. You’re affecting his whole life.”