July 21, 2009
A woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger(notes) in Washoe County, Nev., accusing him of sexual assault in an incident that allegedly took place in a hotel room in July 2008.
Pro Football Talk was first with the story and has followed with details from the suit, which alleges that Roethlisberger asked the woman -- a Harrah's Casino employee -- into his room on the pretense that he needed help with his television, and then forced her to have sex with him.
Roethlisberger’s attorney, David Cornwell, acknowledged that Roethlisberger was served with the suit this weekend while playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev., and released a statement on Monday night proclaiming Roethlisberger's innocence:
"This weekend Andrea McNulty served Ben Roethlisberger with a civil complaint accusing him of sexually assaulting her in July 2008. Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone; especially Andrea McNulty. The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct. If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated.
"Ben will not be baited into a public discussion about his personal life, but we will defend him vigorously. The limited value that Ms. McNulty derived from public disclosure of these viciously false allegations is the only value she will ever receive from Ben in this case."
That's very lawyerly and predictable, but Cornwell brings up two things that everyone else will be wondering about, too. First, why file the lawsuit now when the alleged incident happened a year ago? And second, why were there never any criminal charges? Why only a civil suit? Did she ever try to file criminal charges?
I don’t have those answers, and I definitely don’t feel like it’s my place to speculate. My only hope is that the truth, whatever it may be, will eventually see the light of day.
Update: PFT has obtained a copy of the report against Roethlisberger, and it contains highly-specific details from the accuser. There also seems to be no criminal complaints or investigations pending, which makes this a vastly different situation than the one Kobe Bryant faced in 2003.
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