Franklin reserved on rape case
UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State football coach James Franklin on Thursday briefly addressed the ongoing rape case at his former school, and while he wants to be as transparent as possible, he noted several times that he cannot say much because it is a legal matter.
Franklin’s name came up in court documents from Tennessee on Tuesday after one of the defendants in the case, a former Vanderbilt football player, filed a motion in the case. Franklin knew the rape victim, the documents revealed, had asked her to help in recruiting and also went to visit her four days after the alleged incident.
Franklin denied any wrongdoing in a statement released later Tuesday night, and Thursday he met with the media during the first leg of Penn State’s coaches caravan.
The coach was asked if he felt a sense of obligation to be transparent with the Penn State community after everything it has been through the past couple of years with the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
“Yes,” he said. “But it’s difficult. I addressed this matter Tuesday and during my initial press conference on Jan. 11. I’ve cooperated fully with the authorities. So this matter was thoroughly investigated by the authorities and also (Vanderbilt University) internal counsel and external counsel.”
He went on to add, “I want to be as open and transparent as I possibly can and have been all along, but with this being a legal matter, that’s about all I can say.”
The deputy district attorney in Nashville, Tom Thurman, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Franklin did nothing wrong when he contacted the victim after the incident. He added that such contact was insignificant to the case.
“There is no indication that Coach Franklin did anything inappropriate in this investigation,” Thurman told the Post-Gazette.
The Associated Press reported that attorneys for one of the defendants, Brandon Vandenburg, believe that prosecutors have concealed evidence, including possibly phone calls and text messages from Franklin.
The coach said he understands and is sensitive to what the Penn State community has been through and why there would be a need for people to want to know as much as possible about him regarding to the Vanderbilt case.
“I’m very sensitive to the situation that I went through and that we went through at the former institution,” Franklin said. “I’m very, very sensitive to what happened here. And I’m very, very sensitive to (rape allegations) as society in general. As a father of two daughters, I take this stuff real seriously, like everybody else does.”
One bit of information Franklin did reveal is that he addressed the Vanderbilt case with the Penn State players during a team meeting Wednesday.
“I am as open and honest with my team as I possibly can be,” the coach said.
Franklin noted he likes to use PowerPoint presentations during team meetings to address important non-football issues.
“It shows examples of things that are going on in this country and for them to hopefully learn from, and (the Vanderbilt case) was one of them,” he said. “I shared with them what I could, just like I’m sharing today with you guys (in the media) what I can.”
The first four questions of his news conference were about the Vanderbilt case, and by the last one Franklin nipped it in the bud and said he couldn’t discuss the matter further.
“I’m more than happy at this point to talk about Penn State football, the university, kind of where we’re going. … I’ve said really what I can, and we’re going to have to move on,” the coach said.