published Thursday, May 1st, 2014

Tennessee DA: James Franklin did nothing wrong in contacting woman in Vanderbilt rape case

Penn State coach James Franklin talks to reporters following the NCAA college football team's spring practice, Saturday, April 5, 2014, in State College, Pa.
Penn State coach James Franklin talks to reporters following the NCAA college football team's spring practice, Saturday, April 5, 2014, in State College, Pa.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

PITTSBURGH — Penn State football coach James Franklin did nothing "inappropriate" when he contacted the woman who claims four of Franklin's former players at Vanderbilt University raped her last year, a Tennessee prosecutor said Thursday.

"I can't comment on it much other than to say the statement we've always made is there is no indication that coach Franklin did anything inappropriate in this investigation," Nashville Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a telephone interview.

Any contact Franklin had with the woman wasn't significant to the case, Thurman added.

Franklin denied wrongdoing earlier this week when attorneys for a former Vanderbilt player charged with raping the woman along with three former teammates accused prosecutors of mishandling evidence in the case.

Thurman told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the filings by defense attorneys for Brandon Vandenburg were "an obvious tactical ploy by Mr. Vandenburg's attorneys to intimidate the victim and malign veteran prosecutors." The filings could also taint the jury pool and prevent a fair trial of the charges, Thurman said.

Vandenburg's attorneys contend prosecutors have concealed evidence from them, including text messages, phone records and call logs from Franklin.

The defense filings said the alleged victim told detectives that Franklin contacted the woman days after the alleged June assault, telling her "they cared about her" because she assisted with recruiting.

The defense attorneys also claim that Franklin had previously "called her in for a private meeting and told her he wanted her to get 15 pretty girls together and form a team to assist with the recruiting even though he knew it was against the rules."

"The allegations I did something wrong are simply not true," Franklin said in a statement Tuesday, when the contents of the documents were first reported. "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."

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