The lawyer of a man charged for raping a female student while unconscious in a dorm room argues that he was bullied and peer-pressured into doing it.

The Lawyer’s Argument

Katie Hagan, the attorney of Brandon Banks, a college football player charged for raping a female student while unconscious in a dorm room back in June 2013, has argued during his trial’s opening statements that he was bullied and peer-pressured into doing it.

Hagan said that he was under duress, an argument that led two of three of his teammates to be convicted and sentenced to prison. The unnamed female student’s attorney, Jan Norman, showed a video of the incident as well as several images of the assault. Twenty-three of the forty-one images were on Banks’ cell phone.

Last year, Brandon Vandenburg, one of the teammates who was also dating the student at the time, was sentenced to prison for 17 years. Cory Batey, the other teammate was also sentenced to 15 years in prison around that time.

The Incident

The female student said she has no recollection of the event. She said that last she remembers, she was at a bar when her boyfriend, Vandenburg, gave her a blue drink. According to surveillance footage, Vandenburg and the other teammates then carried her to the dorm room and handed them condoms.  Prosecutors pointed out that Vandenburg recorded the entire incident and sent them to some of his friends in California.

In the video, the players responded to the assault by laughing and cheering, Norman said. “They’re memorializing each other’s accomplishments in that room – what they were doing, what they were cheering each other on to do, what they were encouraging each other to do,” she said.

In response, Hagan said that Brandon Vandenburg, his teammate, “was pressuring and goading” her client throughout it.

“You are going to see some things in these photographs and the videos about Brandon Banks that are going to make you mad at him, and they are going to make you dislike him,” Hagan said. “But despite those things, the proof in this case will show that Brandon Banks is not guilty of the crimes that he is charged with in this indictment.”

Rape Culture’s Role in Rape Cases

Some experts have encouraged colleges all over the world to define “rape culture” in their sexual assault policies. It has been a growing argument that part of what could “peer pressure” male students to participate in sexual assault is an underlying idea that “conquest is key to sexuality” and that “woman and other people’s bodies are for the taking.”

Many lawyers, politicians, sociology and psychology experts blame the culturally encouraged association of “rape” with “victory,” to be a major underlying cause for sexual assault cases. Some linguistic experts have argued that rape should stop being used as synonymous to “victory” in language and more synonymous to “pathetic” or “sexual inadequacy” in order to stop perpetuating its false association.


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