James Franklin says he lied about seeing Vanderbilt rape case video

Penn State coach James Franklin testified via Skype on Wednesday in the rape case that led to the dismissal of four former Vanderbilt football players.
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Penn State coach James Franklin testified via Skype on Wednesday in the rape case that led to the dismissal of four former Vanderbilt football players.

Franklin, who coached at Vanderbilt for three seasons before being hired at Penn State in January 2014, said Wednesday he did not see the cell phone video of the incident, which allegedly took place in the early morning of June 23, 2013. But Franklin testified he told his Vanderbilt team that he saw the video because he did not want to "water down" his message that he was "angry and upset."

From The Patriot-News:

"I had just gotten done meeting with the administration and I didn't want to go in and water my message down to the team," Franklin testified. "I didn't want to say 'I was told (or) I saw a video from somebody else.' That's what I did. I addressed the team and spoke as if I had seen the video because I was angry and upset and I didn't want to water down the message to them.

"I did talk about the video as if I had seen it, based on what was described to me from the administration. I didn't think that was the right way to deliver my message to the team at the time."

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The four former players have been charged with five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery but have pleaded not guilty.

A Buzzfeed article published in September 2013 cited a source "close to one of the defendants" who said he believes Franklin "encouraged a player to delete a video of the incident after the player showed it to Franklin.” Franklin later called the allegation "baseless."

Defense attorneys for one of the players charged in the case wrote in a filing that Franklin and former Vanderbilt and current Penn State staff member Dwight Galt contacted the victim four days after the incident in the interest of explaining "that they cared about her because she assisted them with recruiting."

The Nashville District Attorney's Office said in May that Franklin's interaction with the alleged rape victim was not significant and that he did nothing inappropriate in the investigation.

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- Chris Johnson