By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - A former Vanderbilt University football player found guilty of the 2013 rape of an unconscious female student in a case that drew national attention to sexual assaults on campus was sentenced to 17 years in prison on Friday.
Brandon Vandenburg and teammate Cory Batey, two of four former Vanderbilt football players charged in the case, were found guilty when tried together in January 2015 but a mistrial was declared. Batey has since been retried, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Vandenburg, 23, in June was found guilty of five counts of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of unlawful photography. Each rape charge carried a possible prison sentence of 15 to 25 years.
Defense attorneys argued during the trial that Vandenburg was too intoxicated to commit an assault and should be acquitted. On Friday, Vandenburg, speaking in Davidson County Criminal Court in Nashville for the first time, asked Judge Monte Watkins for mercy and noted he was "an inexperienced drinker."
Vandenburg and the victim, who had been dating, met for drinks at a bar popular with Vanderbilt students. Both had been drinking prior to meeting, according to testimony.
Vandenburg tried to take the victim, who was unconscious, to her apartment, but could not get in. He then took her back to his dormitory, where the other three men charged in the case helped cart her to his room, site of the attacks.
The men used cellphones to record their crimes, with those videos playing crucial roles in the convictions.
The victim, who has not been identified, did not appear in court for Friday's sentencing but sent a statement through Davidson County Assistant District Attorney General Jan Norman, pointing to the "insidious impact" of Vandenburg on her life.
"I still ask that he receive the full sentence allowed under the law for orchestrating the sustained 30-minute gang rape against me, a defenseless woman who trusted him," the victim said in the statement.
The dates for the trials of the other accused former football players, Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie and Brandon Banks, have not been set. McKenzie testified for the prosecution in all the trials so far.
(Reporting by Tim Ghianni, Editing by Ben Klayman and Steve Orlofsky)