Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Prosecutors say a former Vanderbilt football player encouraged his teammates to have sex with an unconscious woman whom he had been dating.

During opening statements Monday in the retrial of Brandon Vandenburg, a prosecutor said the former player even passed out condoms to three teammates before the woman was raped.

But one of Vandenburg's attorneys blamed the three other players, saying that maybe Vandenburg could have stopped the June 2013 attack but he shouldn't be held responsible for what others did to her.

State of Tennessee

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In a move that will transform higher education in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a bill that overhauls the governing boards of some of the state's universities.

The Tennesseans reports that Haslam signed the FOCUS Act, a law that creates new boards for Austin Peay in Clarksville, East Tennessee in Johnson City, Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro, Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tennessee State in Nashville and the University of Memphis. The University of Tennessee system is not affected.

sbc.net

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention says it lost more than 200,000 members in 2015.

It's the ninth straight year of decline for the nation's largest Protestant denomination, which also saw baptisms drop by more than 10,000 in 2015.

According to denomination statistics released on Tuesday, membership stands at 15.3 million, down from 15.5 million in 2014. Baptisms fell to just a little more than 295,000. Baptisms are an important measure for the denomination because of its strong commitment to evangelism.

capitol.tn.gov

CLINTON, Tenn. (AP) — Two gay rights activists have filed a lawsuit challenging a new Tennessee law that lets therapists decline to see patients based on religious values and personal principles.

Bleu Copas is an Anderson County man who says he was discharged from the Army under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Caleb Laieski is an activist from Virginia. Their lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Anderson County Chancery Court. It claims the new law targets gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, violating the right to equal treatment guaranteed by the Tennessee Constitution.

navy.mil

SMYRNA, Tenn. (AP) — Relatives say a Blue Angels pilot who died when his jet crashed in Smyrna had wanted to fly since he was a child.

A U.S. official identified the pilot killed Thursday as Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Dolph Kuss says his grandson dreamed of being an aviator since a young age. And Kuss' mother, Janet Kuss, said in a 2014 newspaper interview that her son had "wanted to be a Blue Angel since forever."

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