SOUTH BEND — Joseph Bannister, the former Indiana University South Bend basketball player accused of raping a woman and sharing videos of the alleged assault on Snapchat, was found not guilty Thursday.
The jury deliberated for roughly 40 minutes before returning the verdict. The reported victim testified that on Feb. 18, 2017, she met 21-year-old Bannister and fellow basketball player 20-year-old Phillip Corthen at a party on Eddy Street. Eventually a group of people ended back at Bannister’s on-campus apartment.
The woman said she was drinking in Bannister’s room and the last thing she remembered was being told she could take her shoes off. The next thing she remembered was waking up at her home, she testified.
In his interview with investigators played in court, Bannister didn’t deny having sex with the woman. He told investigators, though, it was the woman that came on to him and initiated sexual acts with both him and Corthen.
Corthen was also charged with rape. His trial is set to begin Monday.
During the the course of the alleged assault, Bannister sent two Snapchat videos to other basketball players showing him and Corthen with the woman. One of the videos, which Bannister saved on his phone, was submitted as evidence during the trial. It was not played in open court, but the jury was allowed to view it behind closed doors.
The state argued the video showed the woman flat on her stomach with her eyes closed not actively engaging. Defense attorney Michael Tuszynski said the video draws too much speculation and told the jury they could not find Bannister guilty on speculation.
“I think it’s an appropriate verdict based on the evidence in this trial,” Tuszynski said after the verdict. “Maybe if it serves as a cautionary tale to college students out there maybe some good will come out of it. A lot of people have been damaged by this there’s no doubt.”
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