NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Suspended Vanderbilt Commodore wide receiver Chris Boyd has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in a deal with prosecutors and will serve nearly a year of unsupervised probation.
In a court hearing Friday morning, Boyd entered a conditional guilty plea to a role in attempting to cover up the rape of an unconscious student in a dorm on the school's campus.
Boyd received an 11-month, 29-day suspended sentence for criminal attempt to commit accessory after the fact, a misdemeanor. The initial charge was a felony. If he completes probation, his record will be cleared.
As part of the plea, he will also cooperate with prosecutors to help build the case against the four former football players charged with rape.
In the courtroom Friday, Deputy Attorney General Tom Thurman revealed new information in the case. On the night of June 23, he said Boyd received a text from defendant Brandon Vandenberg with a picture showing the unconscious victim during one of the sexual assaults.
Boyd deleted the text because he didn't want his girlfriend to see it. Then Vandenburg called Boyd, and asked him to come over.
Boyd told prosecutors that Vandenburg said he wanted to have sex with the victim but physically couldn't even though he used cocaine. Boyd arrived at the dorm and found the victim laying in the hall and unconscious and not fully clothed.
Boyd and two other people carried her from the hallway and placed her in Vandenburg's bed.
The prosecutor said Boyd went to Vandenburg's dorm and found the woman unconscious and partially clothed in the hallway. Thurman said Boyd and two others lifted the woman into Vandenburg's bed and Boyd left.
Thurman read several texts between Boyd, Vandenburg and another defendant Corey Batey, including ones telling them to delete video and picture evidence and tell no one what happened.
Thurman also read texts between Boyd and his girlfriend, explaining everything would be okay.
The next day, Thurman said Boyd exchanged texts with Batey, including one saying he along with quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels and tight end Dillon van der Wal were the ones who moved the victim out of the hallway.
Boyd also met with the defendants in the case at a Popeye's Chicken restaurant, where Thurman told the judge they discussed the case.
Thurman also told the judge Boyd was not completely honest the first time police and the DA's office interviewed him. He left out conversations he had with Vandenburg and incriminating statements made by Vandenburg
The 21-year-old junior from Roswell, Georgia is a top wide receiver in the SEC. After his indictment in August, he was suspended from the football team.
After the plea, Vanderbilt Public Affairs issued a statement that Boyd "will remain suspended from the Vanderbilt University football team, pending further review by the university." The school said it would have no further comment.
Boyd's future with the team was a hot topic on sports talk-radio, Friday.
"If this guy was just a backup he'd be gone and there'd be no question," one caller said on 102.5 The Game. "So the good players get the chances more likely than not."
Another caller felt Boyd's status as a football player shouldn't be a consideration.
"If he was a regular student he wouldn't be going through all of this."
Vandenburg, Batey, Brandon Banks, and Jaborian "Tip" McKenzie were indicted August 9 on five counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Vandenburg was also charged with one count of tampering with evidence and one count of unlawful photography.
Officials with the Metro Nashville Police Department said the four defendants raped an unconscious victim inside Vandenburg's room at his Gillette House dorm in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 23.
The university was made aware of the situation when officials observing the dorm's hallway surveillance recordings for an unrelated situation saw concerning behavior by the defendants.
Vanderbilt dismissed the players June 29 and kicked them off campus pending the investigation by the Metro Nashville Police Department's sex crimes unit.
All four, who remain free on bond, were scheduled for a routine hearing in the case September 19, but it was postponed to October 16.
Two other California men were also indicted in connection with the case.
19-year-old Miles Joseph Finley and 20-year-old Joseph Dominick Quinzio, both of California, were charged with one felony count each of tampering with evidence. Police said Finley and Quinzio are acquaintances of defendant Brandon Vandenburg.
Finley and Quinzio allegedly tampered with certain electronic evidence in the case.