Franklin on Vanderbilt rape case: ‘Allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true’

tjohnson@centredaily.comApril 29, 2014 

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Penn State football coach James Franklin cheers on his players during the Blue-White game on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Beaver Stadium.

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Attorneys for a former Vanderbilt football player accused of raping a female student are alleging then-coach James Franklin reached out to the woman days after the assault, according to reports.

The Tennessean is reporting that court documents filed Tuesday contain new allegations about interactions between the alleged victim and Franklin and Dwight Galt, now with Penn State.

The court documents allege Franklin and Galt — Penn State’s director of performance enhancement — reached out to the woman four days after the alleged rape and said “that they cared about her because she assisted them with recruiting,” according to the report.

The report went on to say that, at some point, Franklin allegedly called the woman in for a private meeting and said he wanted her to put together a team of “pretty girls” to assist with recruiting “even though he knew it was against the rules.”

Franklin repeatedly said he was “not interested in talking,” when reached by the Nashville newspaper but released a statement through Penn State’s athletic department later Tuesday.

“The allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true,” Franklin said in the statement. “I have cooperated fully with the authorities in this matter but, out of respect for the legal process, I am not able to comment any further.”

On the heels of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked the university, Penn State officials were questioned about Franklin’s connection with the Vanderbilt case at Franklin’s introductory press conference in early January. There, Penn State President Rodney Erickson described the vetting process as “the most thorough ... that any individual has gone through at the university.”

Erickson and Director of Athletics Dave Joyner said Penn State performed a deep background search on Franklin and asked intense interview questions of “multiple, independent, third-party sources.” What they found satisfied them and the other members of Penn State’s search committee tasked with finding a new coach.

Meanwhile, Penn State athletics integrity officer Julie Del Giorno, Vice President and General Counsel Steve Dunham, and Frank Guadagnino, a partner with the Pittsburgh firm of Reed Smith and counsel to the university, were part of the vetting process. Erickson said NCAA-appointed athletics integrity monitor George Mitchell’s team was consulted.

“I’ve responded to some people who’ve said, ‘I sure hope you’ve done your due diligence,” Joyner said in early January. “And I’ve told them, ‘Trust me. We have done a very thorough vetting of this and we feel comfortable with the situation.’ We’re very, very careful and very methodical about doing that.”

Still, Penn State officials and Franklin himself acknowledged the coach still could be called to testify when the trial begins.

Prosecutors in Nashville have said they found no evidence that Franklin had any involvement in the case, including any alleged cover-up.

The new accusations came Tuesday in a court filing asking a judge to dismiss the case against Brandon Vandenburg, one of four former players charged in the rape. Police said the assault happened in a dorm room on June 23.

The defense team argued material they were seeking in the discovery phase of the case was either destroyed or not preserved.

Among the evidence that defense attorneys said is missing are text messages and phone records from Franklin and Galt.

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