- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Defense attorneys for two former Vanderbilt football players convicted in the dorm-room rape of a student asked a judge Monday to declare a mistrial, saying a juror intentionally withheld information that he was a rape victim during the jury selection process.

The juror, 31-year-old Todd Easter, testified Monday during a hearing that he didn’t withhold information because he doesn’t consider himself a victim.

A Sumner County man was convicted of raping Easter when he was 16. However, Easter testified that his relationship with the man was consensual and that his parents were the ones who pressed charges.

A Nashville jury convicted the former Vanderbilt players in January of multiple counts of aggravated rape and sexual battery for the June 2013 campus assault of an unconscious female student. Both of the 21-year-olds - Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey - attended the hearing.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of alleged sexual crimes, but Easter, who was the jury foreman, agreed to have his name included in news stories.

Defense attorneys described Easter as “deceitful and manipulative,” and that he had an agenda.

They said that during the jury selection process Easter had a chance to discuss the rape case he was involved in but when asked whether he had been sexually assaulted, defense attorneys said Easter’s response was, “no one super close to me.”

They also noted comments Easter made to the media after the players were convicted, that part of his motivation for wanting to be foreman was so he could look the defendants in their eyes as the verdict was read.

Easter clarified those statements Monday, saying he was simply trying to “give them the respect of a human being.”

During his testimony, Easter acknowledged that he had a sometimes abusive relationship with the man who was convicted of raping him. He said the two engaged in sexual activity more than 100 times, and that the man - who was seven years older than Easter - threatened to harm him when he broke off the four-month relationship.

Easter went to his mother out of concern, according to a police report that was read in court, and she and her husband contacted authorities.

Easter testified that he was against his parents pressing charges and that he even met with the man again after he was charged.

“It was a consensual relationship,” Assistant District Attorney General Roger Moore said.

However, defense attorneys said Easter’s failure to divulge the extent of his relationship robbed their clients of a fair trial, and they want the judge to grant them a new one.

“The impact of his failure to disclose is enormous,” said Worrick Robinson, Batey’s attorney. “These two men are entitled to 12 - not 11 - jurors who tell the truth.”

Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins said he planned to make a ruling by next Tuesday.

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