Stacey Barchenger, Tennessean, July 15, 2016
A judge Friday sentenced former Vanderbilt University football player Cory Batey to 15 years in prison, but said the man’s true punishment for raping an unconscious woman three years ago was a life sentence.
“It is one of the saddest cases that I have ever encountered,” Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins said. “And I’ve been in the legal business for 32 years.”
The prison term Watkins handed down was the minimum allowed by law. Batey, 22, must serve all 15 years.
The ruling came at the end of a 90-minute hearing in which the rape victim gave an emotional statement about her own life sentence. She spoke from a podium, reading her statement, pausing to cry and looking up at the judge.
“In this age of technology, anyone I ever meet in my personal or professional life can learn I am a rape victim and the details of the case before I’ve even fully introduced myself to them,” she said, citing media coverage.
The woman was 21 and unconscious when police say four men raped her on the floor of a university dorm on June 23, 2013.
Metro Nashville police told her what happened as they uncovered evidence in their investigation, including graphic photographs and videos of the rape. Those videos were both the key evidence and a unique piece of evidence that drew additional attention to the case that some said furthered discussion of how colleges respond to sexual assault.
“Something permanent snapped that day,” the woman said of seeing the pictures. “I felt myself detach from my body. Now, I feel like I’m walking around in the shell of someone else. A part of me went numb, a sense of being a whole person with hopes and dreams about what’s possible in the world was now gone. I felt my belief that people are inherently good twist into some cruel joke in an instant.
“But sexual assault was not where the attack ended,” she said. Her sobs intensified as the described what else the men did to her.
“Mr. Batey continued to abuse and degrade me, urinating on my face while uttering horrific racial hate speech that suggested I deserved what he was doing to me because of the color of my skin. He didn’t even know who I was.”
In prior court hearings, prosecutors have acknowledged a racial statement was made but it was never said publicly in court.
On Friday, multiple sources confirmed to The Tennessean the statement Batey made. “That’s for 400 years of slavery you b—-,” Batey said, according to the sources.
The woman left the courtroom when the judge gave Batey a chance to speak. His wrists were in cuffs and he wore an orange jail uniform. He has been in custody since a jury in April found him guilty of aggravated rape and other counts.
He apologized to his mother and other supporters and to Vanderbilt, the school that gave him a scholarship and the institution his actions put in a bad light.