Video: Accuser feared Roethlisberger’s temper
By PAUL NEWBERRY and KATE BRUMBACK Associated Press Writers
MILLEDGEVILLE, GA.(AP)—There was Ben Roethlisberger(notes), asking a girl what her drink tastes like, doling out high-fives, posing and punching his first in the air, flashing a huge grin for the camera.
Then, about 12 hours later, there was the 20-year-old college student he had partied with, calmly telling police how the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback followed her into a nightclub bathroom, ignored her repeated protests that “I really don’t think this is OK,” and sexually assaulted her.
The contrasting images were part of the most extensive look yet into a star athlete gone wild, even if his late-night carousing in a quaint college town didn’t result in criminal charges.
Sixty audio and video clips from the investigation were released Wednesday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, but the ones that stood out were two interviews with the accuser, who hasn’t spoken publicly, and less than a minute of shaky footage that shows Roethlisberger partying at the club where the accusation was made early March 5.
The accuser said she felt powerless to stop a short-tempered Roethlisberger from having sex with her even though she told him over and over again to stop.
“I’m a little girl and he’s a big boy,” she told investigators.
The local prosecutor determined there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant criminal charges, and he said the woman ultimately asked him not to prosecute the quarterback. Even so, the NFL suspended Roethlisberger for the first six games of the upcoming season.
The accuser was interviewed twice by police - the first time shortly after she made the accusation, and a second time later that day at the police station.
The woman sounded intoxicated when she spoke with Milledgeville officer Jason Lopez in the first interview. Her words were slurred and she even says at one point, “Obviously, I’m drunk.” An audio recording of that interview was made.
The next afternoon, the student said in a videotaped session that Roethlisberger appeared to have “a short temper.” She also said she didn’t think it would do any good to fight back against a much larger person - the quarterback is listed at 6-foot-5 and weighing 241 pounds, while his accuser told officers she was 5-4 and 145 pounds.
“I didn’t want, obviously, him to hurt me any more than he was going to,” she said.
Lopez asked the woman if she knew why Roethlisberger would feel “it was OK to do this to you.”
While the accuser acknowledged wearing an explicit name tag, which was left over from a friend’s birthday party earlier in the night, she denied leading on the 28-year-old quarterback.
“I wasn’t forward in any way,” she said. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh my gosh, have sex with me because you’re an NFL superstar.”’
In the follow-up interview, the woman was calm and matter-of-fact when discussing the previous night, struggling to remember a few details but adamant that she had been assaulted by Roethlisberger. She said he first exposed himself to her in a hallway, then followed her into the bathroom.
In the video, the woman’s face was blurred. She was wearing a navy blue T-shirt, jeans and had her blonde hair pulled back.
In Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger took part in a Steelers practice session but didn’t talk with the media. He was escorted off the field by a team spokesman.
Later in an interview with WTAE-TV at his home, he apologized to the fans.
“I strive every day and I bust my butt to be the best quarterback in the NFL for these fans and the Steelers, but I’m going to strive even harder to be the best off the field - to be the best role model and community leader and whatever I can be off the field,” Roethlisberger said, according to excerpts posted on the station’s website.
“I owe that to the fans because I have made a lot of mistakes,” he added. “From the bottom of my heart, I’m so sorry to them if I’ve ever wronged even one fan. I am so sorry. I’m going to do everything in my power not to let it happen again.”
Roethlisberger also is being sued in Nevada by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her there in 2008. There were no charges brought in that case.
His attorney has denied he did anything wrong in Georgia, where Roethlisberger owns a lake house near Milledgeville. But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the quarterback deserved to be suspended for his petulant antics; the ban could be reduced to four games if he shows a commitment to improving his behavior off the field.
The accuser’s written statements to investigators had already been released. Still, the videos provided the most extensive account yet of what she says happened.
She has not returned calls seeking comment. The Associated Press generally doesn’t name those who say they were sexually assaulted.
Several of Roethlisberger’s teammates said they didn’t even know the DVDs were being released.
“All I can do is just deal with whatever comes along with it,” he said. “I just want to let everybody know I have a family and I’m a good man and I spoke freely in my interview” with Georgia investigators.
The 49-second video of Roethlisberger was shot by a member of his entourage. It shows him wearing a black Nike baseball cap and black T-shirt with a devil’s face on it. Most of what he said was drowned out by loud music in the club.
Nicole Biancofiore, a friend of the accuser, also said she saw Roethlisberger flash his temper when another friend hesitated to accept drinks from him.
“She said, ‘I don’t think we should.’ I turned back around and he got really angry. He said, ‘Forget it. You’re done. That’s it,”’ Biancofiore told investigators.
Ed Joyner, a Pennsylvania state trooper who’s a friend of Roethlisberger and sometimes works as his personal assistant, said people were mobbing the quarterback all night.
“If he starts talking, I mean, he’s like a magnet. They come and they come hard,” Joyner told police. “These girls, I mean, they were all just one right after another. And then there was guys, too. I mean the guys were pretty heavy, too.”
Joyner also told local police that he was worried his department would find out he was there.
Colon’s hourlong interview with a GBI agent was among the videos released. He shed little light on the case, saying he didn’t even know anything had occurred until he saw police at the club. He wasn’t with Roethlisberger afterward, leaving in a separate car, though he was concerned about what impact the accusations would have.
“I’m a player, too,” Colon told the officer in his interview. “I can’t get in trouble. We’ve got to be more cautious about putting (ourselves) in situations where people can harm us.”
Associated Press Writer Joe Mandak in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.