iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Vandenburg was found guilty this weekend in the rape of an unconscious woman in his dorm room and is expected to face a minimum of 15 years in prison.
As he awaits sentencing, his case is igniting comparisons to former Stanford athlete Brock Turner, who was recently sentenced to 6 months of jail time in a campus sexual assault case.
The Vanderbilt and Stanford cases seem similar from afar because they’re both high-profile college campus assault stories. However, Vandenburg and Turner were convicted of different charges and are facing very distinct consequences.
What to Know: The Vanderbilt Case
A jury this weekend found Vandenburg, 23, guilty on all counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery for his role in the rape of an unconscious woman in his dorm room in 2013.
Vandenburg and three of his teammates were accused in the assault. While Vandenburg was not accused of physically assaulting the victim himself, he was accused of encouraging others to do so — which is rape under Tennessee law, ABC News Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams explained.
Vandenburg and teammate Cory Batey were convicted in 2015, but those convictions were thrown out after a judge declared a mistrial because one of the jurors did not disclose that he had been a victim of statutory rape.
After this weekend’s conviction, Vandenburg faces a possible prison sentence between 15 and 25 years. Vandenburg’s lawyer did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape in April. Both Vandenburg and Batey will be sentenced July 15. The other two players allegedly involved are awaiting trial and both have pleaded not guilty.
What to Know: The Stanford Case
Former Stanford swimmer Turner, 20, was sentenced earlier this month to six months in a county jail after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a Stanford campus dumpster in January 2015. Prosecutors alleged Turner digitally penetrated the woman.
A jury found him guilty in March of three felony charges: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person. The six month sentence made waves on social media with many criticizing that Turner was getting too little jail time. Turner could have faced a maximum sentence of 14 years for his conviction.
Abrams said, “You could argue that there are factual similarities [in the two cases,] but as a legal matter, they are totally different.”
Here are some key differences.
The evidence in each case
What the prosecutors could prove in each case is very different, Abrams said.
In the Stanford case, witnesses riding bikes on campus who apprehended Turner Turner “something scary that led them to step in and help, but exactly what happened was more difficult to prove,” Abrams said, so more serious charges against Turner were dropped because the prosecution did not think they could be proven.
In the Vanderbilt case, evidence included video from the scene, Abrams explained, so prosecutors “had a much easier time” proving the significant crime of aggravated rape.
The charges and state laws
Both cases are about sex assault, but the charges — and states — are different.
In the Stanford case, Turner was not convicted of rape; he was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person and penetration of an unconscious person.
In California, the maximum sentence Turner could have faced for this crime was 14 years.
In the Vanderbilt case, Vandenburg was convicted of aggravated rape and sexual battery.
In Tennessee, these charges could lead to a sentence between 15 and 25 years.
“The alleged acts are quite similar in many ways in both cases,” Abrams said of the Stanford case, in California, and the Vanderbilt case, in Tennessee, “But the laws in California and Tennessee are pretty different.”
Abrams said Turner could have potentially faced more time for his crime if it was in Tennessee and Vandenburg could have potentially faced less time if his crime was in California. Furthermore, the ways certain sexual assaults are defined are potentially different in each state.
So while these two high-profile college assault cases seem similar, the charges, state laws and now potential sentences are very different.
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