On the same day that Vanderbilt kicked starting wide receiver Chris Boyd off the football team for trying to cover up a June 23 rape incident involving teammates in a university dorm, prosecutors said the university's starting quarterback was "misidentified" as having been on the scene after the attack.
Boyd was removed from the team, Vanderbilt said in a prepared statement, because his "admitted actions are clearly inconsistent with the high standards of behavior expected of our student-athletes." But that statement and public comments by the prosecutor raised new questions about what happened the night of the incident.
On Friday at a plea hearing for Boyd, Deputy District Attorney General Tom Thurman read details in court that indicated Boyd and two others helped move an unconscious 21-year-old woman from a hallway back into a dorm room after she had been raped. He didn't name the other individuals, but read a text out loud in which Boyd identified Vanderbilt's starting quarterback, Austyn Carta-Samuels and tight end Dillon van der Wal, as helping to move her.
But Tuesday, four days after the hearing, the Davidson County District Attorney General's Office said that Boyd was in error when he suggested that Carta-Samuels helped move the woman back into the dorm room where she was attacked.
From Susan Niland, spokeswoman for the DA's office:
"At the recent plea agreement of former Vanderbilt football player Chris Boyd, text messages were read that Boyd had sent and received from other individuals. One text from Boyd to former student Corey Batey read in part 'me Carta and Vanderwal (sic) and Vandenburg helped us move her out of the hallway', referring to the victim who was lying in the hall of the dorm. However, based upon the evidence collected to date, Boyd wrongly identified student Austyn Carta-Samuels as someone who participated in helping move the victim. Carta-Samuels and Dillon Vanderwal (sic) are both listed as witnesses in the rape case against four former Vanderbilt students. Vanderwal (sic) and another student were involved in moving the victim from the hall to a dorm room, but that act alone does not constitute a crime."
Former player Brandon Vandenburg was one of four indicted in the rape.
Shortly before prosecutors' announcement, Vanderbilt University announced that Boyd, 21, of Roswell, Ga., was kicked off the football team.
"Vanderbilt's athletic administration, in conjunction with its head football coach, today dismissed Chris Boyd from the university's football team and athletic program. The action came after an ongoing review that included information disclosed during a hearing Sept. 13 in Davidson County Criminal Court," said Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Beth Fortune. "The review concluded that Mr. Boyd's admitted actions are clearly inconsistent with the high standards of behavior expected of our student-athletes."
Vanderbilt's administrators will allow Boyd to continue to be a student.
"He retains his scholarship. His status as a student hasn't changed. He is not banned from campus," said Elizabeth P. Latt, assistant vice chancellor for news and communications. She elaborated that he is on an athletic scholarship, but has not yet responded as to how he can remain on an athletic scholarship while suspended from the team.
Vanderbilt officials had refused for two days to answer questions from The Tennessean about Boyd's scholarship status or future on the team. Vanderbilt also has avoided questions about details brought up in court about Carta-Samuels and van der Wal. Both played in Saturday's loss to the University of South Carolina.
At Friday's hearing, Thurman read from a statement detailing their evidence against Boyd. Among that evidence was a series of text messages discussing how the woman was moved around after being raped.
"He (Boyd) and two other individuals carried her back into the room and placed her in the bed and left," Thurman read. Then, Thurman read from Boyd's text messages, "Me Carta and Vanderwall (sic) and Vandenburg helped us move her out the hallway."
During the hearing, Thurman didn't correct the mention of Carta-Samuels, who has been listed, along with van Der Wal, as witnesses in the case.
At that hearing, Boyd pleaded guilty to attempting to cover up the June 23 rape of a 21-year-old Vanderbilt student. He was sentenced to just under a year of probation and will be required to testify against four former teammates charged in the rape.
Vandenburg, 20, from Indio, Calif.; Cory Batey, 19, of Nashville; Brandon Eric Banks, 19, from Brandywine, Md.; and Jaborian McKenzie, 18, from Woodville, Miss., are each charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg also is charged with one count of unlawful photography and tampering with evidence.
All four are awaiting trial and are scheduled to appear in court Oct. 16.