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The Philadelphia Inquirer

Penn State football coach James Franklin contacted an alleged rape victim after four of his Vanderbilt football players had been arrested and charged with the crime, the Tennessean reported, citing court documents that were filed Tuesday.

The newspaper reported that as part of a motion for a dismissal, an attorney for one of the former Vanderbilt football players charged last year with the aggravated rape of an undergraduate claimed that Franklin contacted the alleged victim during a medical examination four days after the assault. According to the report, Franklin and assistant Dwight Galt (who is now on his staff at Penn State) told the woman "that they cared about her because she assisted them with recruiting."

"The allegations that I did something wrong are simply not true," Franklin said Tuesday night in a statement released by Penn State. "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."

Franklin, 42, was hired as Penn State's coach in January after three seasons as head coach at Vanderbilt.

In a telephone interview with The Inquirer in January, Tom Thurman, the deputy district attorney in Nashville who is prosecuting the case, said he had found no evidence that Franklin "was involved in any way whatsoever in covering it up or anything like that. He's been up-front with us at all times. There's no indication of his involvement as far as doing anything improper."

According to the Tennessean, the court filing claimed that at a date that was unclear, apparently before the alleged rape, Franklin had another meeting with the alleged victim.

"Coach Franklin 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," according to the filing. "He added that all the other colleges did it."

It is unclear when or how the alleged victim made these assertions.

Four Commodores football players were charged in August with raping and sexually battering a 21-year-old female Vanderbilt student on June 23; a fifth pleaded guilty to trying to cover up the alleged rape. All five were subsequently dismissed from the football program. An Aug. 11 trial date has been set for two of the defendants.

According to the Tennessean, attorneys for one of the ex-players who is charged filed what the newspaper termed "a scorched-earth motion" Tuesday, asking a judge to dismiss the case or reprimand prosecutors for destroying or failing to preserve evidence. The attorneys claimed that evidence provided through discovery included disks with empty file folders and video surveillance in which 55 percent of what was filmed on 14 campus cameras had been deleted.

The Tennessean reported that it contacted Franklin Tuesday by cellphone and that he repeatedly said he was "not interested in talking."

mjensen@phillynews.com - @jensenoffcampus

April 30, 2014 

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