A Tennessee jury found former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg guilty of multiple counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery. The jurors determined that he was responsible for inciting several teammates to rape a woman he once dated in Vandenberg’s dorm room while she was unconscious.
This isn’t the first time this ruling has been handed down. Vandenburg was previously convicted in 2015, but the ruling was declared a mistrial after it was revealed that a jury member withheld that he was a victim of rape. Another team member, Corey Batey, was retried and found guilty in April.
The defense argued that Vandenburg was drunk and therefore couldn’t be held responsible for his actions. This is the same argument used in the case of Brock Turner, the ex-Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault.
How does anyone—professional defense lawyer or random person on the street, think being drunk excuses sexual crimes? Does a driver who plows into pedestrians suddenly get a pass because he was drunk? Is the parent who abuses their children not so bad if that parent has a drinking problem? Absolutely not. And yet drunkenness is an excuse made in multiple courts of law in defense of men who have grossly violated women. And, more to the point, as Brock Turner’s light sentencing proved, it is a viable rationale.
Vandenburg and his accomplices made a choice to commit a crime, drunk or not. And justice is being served. Now, we need to hope for fair sentencing.