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Franklin Denies Trying To Help Cover Up Vandy Rape Case

James-Franklin-contemplativeOn Saturday afternoon, the website Buzzfeed.com published a report on the recent rape case associated with the Vanderbilt football program.  Four players were dismissed from the team after being arrested in connection with the rest.  A fifth player — receiver Chris Boyd — was suspended after he was arrested for allegedly aiding his teammates in covering up the crime.

The Buzzfeed report made new claims: “But many disturbing details about the alleged crimes — including what is described as a racially charged video an an allegation that Vanderbilt coach James Franklin told a player to delete footage of the incident, which he strongly denies — have not been reported until now.”

Writer Bobby Allyn — a first-time Buzzfeed contributor — says his piece was “based on two dozen interviews with students, attorneys, and others with direct knowledge of the night and the ongoing investigation.”

Allyn wrote:

 

“A source close to one of the defendants said he believes that Franklin encouraged a player to delete a video of the incident after the player showed it to Franklin.

‘I’m 99.9% sure that Franklin saw the video,’ the source said.  ‘And I wouldn’t be surprised if the public finds this out soon.’

‘Coach Franklin denies that emphatically,’ said Hal Hardin, Franklin’s attorney.  ‘People always speculate and gossip.  There is no truth to that accusation whatsoever.  It’s inflammatory.’”

 

Yesterday, Vanderbilt’s third-year coach himself tackled the accusation:

 

“There’s nobody that understands the seriousness of this situation more than me.  I could not be more sympathetic to the alleged victim.  It’s a very, very serious issue, and I’m not going to waste your time or mine reacting to baseless statements.  I’m not going to do it.

We’ve cooperated fully with the university.  We’ve cooperated fully with the authorities.  And that’s really as far as I’m going to go with it.  I’m not going to waste your time or mine.”

 

When a source-based story like this makes headlines, you must first determine the credibility of the writer.  You don’t know the sources, so you really have to decide for yourself if you trust the author’s judgement when it comes to who is and who isn’t a credible source.

We face that on this site.  We’ve been doing this for more than five years now.  The three main writers on this site have about 60 years of media history tied to their names.  There’s a body of work that you can choose to trust or not trust when it comes to our opinions or source-based stories.

So who is Bobby Allyn?  According to his Twitter feed he’s a “freelance journalist” based in Nashville who also happens to be an “inveterate collector of blazers.”  Ah, but his resume boasts that he studied at American University and has written for The Tennessean, The Oregonian and The New York Times.

More importantly, Allyn was the courts reporter for The Tennessean in Nashville.  He and a number of other writers were laid off recently as the Gannett chain dumped nearly 200 more jobs across its empire.  But as the local courts reporter, one must assume that Allyn would indeed have enough contacts in legal and law enforcement circles to piece together some pretty good information on the Vanderbilt rape case.

That doesn’t mean that his source is correct about Franklin, of course.  Sources — even good ones — can occasionally be wrong.

The concern for Vanderbilt and Franklin, however, is not Allyn’s accusations.  It’s the fact that Allyn’s accusations might lead a lot of other enterprising investigative journalists to start snooping around Nashville’s West End.  Who knows what they might find?

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