Police send findings in Big Ben case to DA

The police have concluded their investigation into the allegations that Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sexually assaulted a 20-year-old woman and have forwarded their findings to the local district attorney.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Milledgeville Police Chief Woodrow W. Blue Jr. today released a statement saying the findings had been sent Tuesday evening to Frederic D. Bright, Ocmulgee Judical Court district attorney.

Mr. Bright will review the findings, consider whether additional investigation and interviews are necessary, and decide whether criminal charges should be filed.

If so, Mr. Bright would take the findings before a grand jury, meaning it could be months before charges, if any, are brought against the Steelers quarterback.

If I had to venture a guess as to what will happen next, I imagine that Big Ben will escape any serious trouble. It seems like there’s a lot of he said, she said involved in this case and it’ll be hard for the DA (or a judge, or a jury) to convict Roethlisberger of anything.

That said, Big Ben’s punishment will come via public embarrassment. This is the second time in the past two years that he has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman and even if he’s not convicted of anything, the Steelers are already leery about the decisions that their franchise quarterback is making off the field. The team is likely having trust issues right now with Roethlisberger and he’s going to have to deal with that whether he’s convicted or not.

Big Ben may dodge a bullet in court, but he’ll have a lot of work to do repairing his imagine in Pittsburgh.

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Big Ben claims he did not sleep with accuser

Details are emerging in the latest Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault case, as ESPN.com is reporting that Big Ben told the police that he did not have intercourse with his accuser.

Sources told KDKA Roethlisberger said he had contact with the woman that was not consummated and afterward she slipped and fell, injuring her head.

It was also reported Wednesday that two off-duty Pennsylvania law enforcement officers were with Roethlisberger at the Georgia nightclub.

Anthony Barravecchio, an officer on the force in the Pittsburgh suburb of Coraopolis, and Pennsylvania Trooper Ed Joyner were among about eight people with Roethlisberger celebrating his birthday at the club, attorney Michael Santicola said. Santicola said the men were there because they are friends of the two-time Super Bowl winner.

“They were not there in their official capacity,” said Santicola, who represents Barravecchio but said Joyner is also a longtime friend.

Santicola, who’s based in western Pennsylvania, said both of the law enforcement officers who were with Roethlisberger are cooperating fully with the investigation, but say they saw nothing inappropriate.

Just because the two officers didn’t see anything doesn’t mean nothing happened. That said, having those two officers (who were apparently sober the entire night) there certainly helps Roethlisberger’s case that no foul play occurred.

What’s interesting is the new detail about her hitting her head. Is Roethlisberger and/or his defense team going to use that to say the girl wasn’t coherent after the two had consummated “contact” with each other in the bathroom? If they do, it seems like it would be a weak argument.

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Banks calls out Big Ben for his decision making

Don Banks of SI.com put together a well-written article on Ben Roethlisberger’s decision-making in light of the most recent allegations that he sexually assaulted a 20-year-old woman in Georgia last weekend.

But with that out of the way, here’s what I think we do know about Roethlisberger at this point: At the very least, he’s starting to look very guilty of serial bad judgment. He doesn’t seem to know what’s good for him, and he clearly doesn’t respect the notion that there are boundaries of where he should be, when he should be there, and who he should be with.

If I’m Roethlisberger, who’s still facing last year’s civil suit alleging he sexually assaulted a Lake Tahoe, Nev., casino hostess in the summer of 2008, that means I’m swearing off hanging out in college-town bars until 2 a.m., making the frat-boy rounds with my entourage. Engaging groups of college-age women while out partying isn’t helpful either. Quite a sacrifice, I know, but, hey, there is a pretty fair career to think of in this case. Not to mention a reputation that is rapidly approaching the state of being irreparably damaged.

I don’t know exactly when a pattern of behavior shows itself to the point of becoming obvious, but I think by now it’s safe to say Roethlisberger either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care. You think it can’t all go away pretty quickly in a hail of bad decision-making, Ben? Talk to Michael Vick about that one. One day he was practically the young and fresh face of the NFL, and the next time we looked, he was the poster child for wasted opportunity.

When you add Roethlisberger’s 2006 helmet-less motorcycle accident into the mix of questionable decision-making, this is the third offseason in five years the Pittsburgh quarterback has made the wrong kind of headlines and given us reason to question his thinking, his actions, or both. That’s at least twice too many for any player, but particularly for one who carries the mantle of franchise quarterback for one of the most successful and beloved organizations in the NFL.

You’ll have to read the entire article in order to grasp Banks’ full take on the subject, but the above four paragraphs summed up his basic premise.

I’m always torn on a subject like this. If Big Ben is guilty of wrongdoing, then let the legal system punish him and then the media can take its turn in frying him as well. But if all he’s done is go out to a bar, drink and then tried to get busy with a woman in a bathroom, then he’s hardly out of line. We don’t know what happened that night and whether or not this girl is trying to get a free ride. Were they flirting together? Did she invite him into the bathroom? Who knows. This same situation probably happens nightly but because it’s Roethlisberger, his life is being plastered all over the Internet. (Again though, if he was being a creep bag and did sexually assault her, then I hope he’s punished.)

That said, athletes live in a different world because of their money and stature. I realize this might not be fair, but not all of us have the ability or opportunity to make $50 million over our lifetimes either. So I agree with Banks when he writes that Big Ben needs to make better decisions in order to protect his reputation while he’s still playing in the NFL – especially considering this is the second time he’s been accused of sexual assault. I’m not suggesting that he doesn’t go out and have a good time (and neither is Banks), but he needs to realize that because of who he is, he runs the risk of having his actions made public. That’s just the way it is nowadays.

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Ben Roethlisberger lawyers up

According to ESPN.com, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has hired a high-profile Atlanta defense attorney after he was charged with sexual assault (for the second time in the last year) over the weekend.

Police say a 20-year-old college student reported the assault after an encounter with Roethlisberger at a nightclub in the central Georgia college town.

Meanwhile, the assistant for attorney Ed Garland confirmed that he is representing Roethlisberger. Garland previously represented rapper T.I. on a federal weapons charge and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in a murder case.

More serious charges against Lewis were dropped and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge.
Deputy chief Richard Malone said the accuser has also hired an attorney, but he would not say who that is.

The Steelers, who had previously withheld comment as they gathered information, released a statement Monday.

“All of us in the Steelers family are concerned about the recent incident involving Ben Roethlisberger in Georgia,” team president Art Rooney II said in a news release. “We cannot comment on any of the specifics until law enforcement’s investigation is concluded. Certainly, we will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Is anyone else surprised by the lack of attention that this story is getting? Normally when an athlete or celebrity is charged with sexual assault, the story is headline news on all media sites. But this story seems to be incredibly slow developing and you get the feeling that this is Page 7C news instead of 1A just based on the way the media is reporting it.

There will be plenty of people that will take the racial angle here and suggest that the media is doing its best to downplay the situation because Roethlisberger is white. I’m not quite ready to hop on that bandwagon yet, but it is odd that this story isn’t receiving more headline news.

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