Though Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger(notes) will not be charged for whatever happened between him and a college co-ed on the early morning of March 5 in Milledgeville, Georgia, the idea that Roethlisberger is getting off scot-free is a bit premature. For the second time in two years, he has put himself in the position to have the notion of sexual assault around him, and elements of the statement released today by Ocmulgee County District Attorney Fred Bright were very disturbing to anyone expecting a franchise quarterback of an NFL team to operate at a basic level of moral understanding.
When Bright talked about Roethlisberger's bodyguard escorting the alleged victim to a small bathroom near the VIP Room of a club, and Roethlisberger following ... well, unless you consider "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" to be reality TV, I'd imagine you may have winced a little.
You're not the only one. Steelers owner Art Rooney II released the following statement a few hours after Bright made his findings official:
The investigation process in Georgia has been deliberate and the District Attorney's decision regarding Ben Roethlisberger speaks for itself.
During the past few weeks I have met with Ben on a number of occasions, not only to discuss this incident, but also to discuss his commitment to making sure something like this never happens again. The Pittsburgh Steelers take the conduct of players and staff very seriously. Ben will now have to work hard to earn back the respect and trust of Steelers fans, and to live up to the leadership responsibilities we all expect of him.
In the coming days, Ben will meet with Commissioner Goodell to discuss his resolve to abide by the league's personal conduct standards. After consultation with the Commissioner, our organization will determine the next steps in this process.
The "next steps" could be many things. The team could abide by a Goodell suspension, second a recommendation for some kind of counseling, or add to an NFL fine. Or, they could do nothing, and let their sole contribution to a Roethlisberger rehabilitation be the Santonio Holmes(notes) trade. If that's the case, we just have to hope that Roethlisberger's future isn't reliant on the concept of "I won't do it again" -- for his own good, and for the good of those around him should an actual criminal offense take place down the road.