Written by Duane W. Gang and Adam Tamburin, The Tennessean
Four former Vanderbilt University football players pleaded not guilty today to charges that they raped an unconscious 21-year-old woman in a campus dorm this summer.
None of the four appeared in court before Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins but entered their pleas through their attorneys.
Meanwhile, in a separate courtroom, Vanderbilt wide receiver Chris Boyd, charged as an accessory after the fact in the case, pleaded not guilty before Judge Steve Dozier. Boyd also waived his appearance and did not appear.
Brandon Vandenburg, 20, from Indio, Calif.; Cory Batey, 19, of Nashville; Brandon Eric Banks, 19, from Brandywine, Md.; and Jaborian McKenzie, 18, from Woodville, Miss., are each charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg, who remains in jail, also is charged with one count of unlawful photography and tampering with evidence.
All four entered their pleas through attorneys and waived their right to appear in court.
Boyd, 21, has been suspended from the team, pending further review.
Also facing charges in the case are Miles Joseph Finley, 19, of Bermuda Dunes, Calif., and Joseph Dominick Quinzio, 20, of Palm Desert, Calif. They were high school teammates and friends of Vandenburg and are both accused of tampering with evidence.
An attorney for Quinzio is vowing to fight extradition to Tennessee. Finley pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge Tuesday and has yet to have an extradition hearing scheduled.
All of the charges stem from an incident inside the Gillette Hall dormitory June 23. University officials discovered it two days later when they saw the four rape suspects acting suspiciously on hallway surveillance-camera footage while investigating an unrelated matter, police have said.
The case has thrust Vanderbilt and its improving football program into the national spotlight just as it gets set to embark on a new season on Aug. 29. The Commodores, aiming for a third consecutive bowl appearance under coach James Franklin, are coming off their winningest campaign since 1915.
The four former players indicted on the rape charges never played in a game for Vanderbilt. That can't be said of Boyd. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior is one of Vanderbilt's top receivers and has 81 career receptions for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Vanderbilt's starting quarterback - Austyn Carta-Samuels - could be subpoenaed to testify, according to a witness list attached the initial indictment.
Boyd is an Eagle Scout from Roswell, Ga., and his father, Steven Boyd, said in an interview this week that his son cooperated with authorties and was shocked to learn of the indictment.
"We're holding him together," Steven Boyd said of his son. "We're waiting to find out what the DA wants or needs to satisfy them," Steven Boyd said. "All three of my boys are Eagle Scouts, and they have never been in trouble. It goes without saying that they tell the truth, and he did."