broken from violence and assault,
shattered futures, and
Cell phones provided clear images of the event, and text messages traced the panic and coverup by those involved. Television coverage of the trial allowed us armchair access to each day’s proceedings, but videos and pictures were not shown to viewers. Instead a detective described the violent actions of several young men as they assaulted the unconscious young woman.
Technology detectives with the Metro Police recovered those convicting pictures, videos, and text messages which the university students thought were deleted. That evidence proved to be the key to the jury’s decision — guilty on all counts for the first two men to stand trial. You can read more at this link from Huffington Post which includes a number of stories about this investigation.
Several factors made this crime shocking to our community. Vanderbilt is known as an elite institution in our city and in our country. Their athletic students always seemed to be a cut above other university athletes. Most came from privileged families or had received coveted scholarships. The violent crimes most often reported in our city usually take place in our inner city along with store robberies, and drunken fights at downtown clubs near Broadway.
The two young men sat in court each day with somber faces, dressed in suits and ties. When the verdict was read, they appeared dazed, shocked. The pain each family endured was etched on their faces as they watched their sons handcuffed and taken to jail from the courtroom.
Lisa Beavers, a certified sex therapist with the Nashville Gender and Sexuality Center commented on the Vanderbilt case in the Feb. 3, 2015 edition of The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily paper. She noted that in this incident “a whirlwind of things contributed to this violence”. A combination of
- Heavy alcohol abuse
- Gang mentality
- Sending video and texts that was almost a high within itself
- Depersonalization of other people
- Adrenaline responses
She explained, “Something more powerful than alcohol- sometimes – is our adrenaline and our reactions with group or gang mentality.”
With heavy hearts for people we have never met, we wonder what can we do? I plan to write additional posts to consider:
- Why don’t women report sexual assaults?
- Respecting and valuing women
- How can we best teach our children responsibility and safety regarding alcohol, drugs, peer pressure, and technology.
I leave you with these thoughts from Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience.
No news story suddenly just begins as a headline. Every single one begins as a line of thought running through somebody’s heart.
Cultural change doesn’t happen by us throwing stones but by us becoming rock solid in our commitment to personal change.
This is a story that begins within us.
I am thankful today that the victim in this rape case had the courage to sit in court every day to face these young men and then to testify.
I am thankful that the evidence was uncovered about this crime because the victim has no memory of the events.