Nashville Deputy District Attorney Tom Thurman said coach James Franklin reaching out to an alleged rape victim days after the reported incident “wasn’t for the purpose of covering up,” nor was it improper. Thurman made these statements in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Thurman, who is prosecuting four former Vanderbilt football players charged with raping a female student in June 2013 in a dorm room, was responding to Tuesday’s court filing that had Penn State in a small panic. The defense team said crucial evidence to the case was missing, including phone records and texts from Franklin and assistant Dwight Galt, also now at Penn State, and that Franklin had actually reached out to the girl a few days after the incident was reported.
“I think he and his wife called and said they were praying for her and thinking about her,” Thurman said to the Inquirer. “It was probably a pretty nice thing to do and it gets thrown up like this.”
“Obviously, it wasn’t for any purpose of covering up or anything like that. It was showing support, which was a nice thing to do. That’s the only contact I know about.”
Thurman also told the Inquirer that he thought Franklin knew the woman.
“I think she worked at the [Vanderbilt] football office part-time,” Thurman said. “I think she was on the dance team. It wasn’t really that relevant to us.”
As for the cellphone withholding, Thurman told the Inquirer that he didn’t have Franklin’s cellphone, nor did he find it particularly relevant.
“There’s no evidence of a cover-up,” Thurman said. “We didn’t go out and get everybody’s cellphone who was on the Vanderbilt campus.”
Franklin released a statement through Penn State on Tuesday night denying any wrongdoing in the matter.
“The allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true,” Franklin said in a 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.”
He is scheduled to meet with the media today as part of the annual Coaches Caravan and is sure to be asked about the situation. Stay tuned.