The Milledgeville, Ga., police officer who first investigated Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger(notes) for sexual assault was pressured to resign this week after a police report detailed profane comments he made about the accuser on the night of the alleged incident.
Sergeant Jerry Blash was told to resign or face termination following the revelation that he made derogatory comments questioning the sobriety of the accuser and the veracity of her claims following the incident. The eight-year police veteran had already gained noteriety when a photo was released of him posing with Roethlisberger at the bar before the incident took place (above).
TMZ reports Blash admitted to investigators that he made expletive-laden statements about the accuser in which he doubted her claims because of how much alcohol she consumed that evening. He also reportedly told the accuser and her friends that Roethlisberger "had a lot of money" and pursuing a police report would be a waste of time.
On April 12, Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said that the two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback would not face charges stemming from the incident because the accuser's claims couldn't be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Exhaustive interviews and medical exams were unable to shed much light on what happened behind a closed door on March 5.
Fairly or not, the impropriety by Blash calls into question the legitimacy of the Milledgeville Police Department's investigation of Roethlisberger's alleged actions. Did the quarterback get preferential treatment because of the words of a police sergeant with whom he had become friendly? Did Blash tarnish the reputation of the accuser with his derogatory statement? Or did he simply use bad judgment in becoming chummy with a big-time athlete?
Another law enforcement official is also under fire because of the incident. A Pennsylvania state trooper is being investigated after he was identified by Georgia officials as the bodyguard who refused to let the accuser's friends check on her when she went to a closed-off portion of the bar with Roethlisberger. Ed Joyner has had permission to moonlight for Roethlisberger since 2005, but not specifically as a "bodyguard". He is still subject to the agency's code of conduct.