A Nevada judge on Wednesday denied a motion to move the civil sexual assault case against Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Lake Tahoe casino employees from Reno to Douglas County, where the alleged incident occurred.
Washoe District Judge Brent Adams in Reno ruled that one of the named defendants, Harrah's Lake Tahoe executive Dave Monroe, has residences in both Douglas and Washoe counties and therefore Washoe County is a proper venue for the case to be heard.
Adams added, "There's no reason to believe an impartial jury cannot be found in Washoe County, or that the interest of justice would be prompted by change of venue."
The woman, a 31-year-old Harrah's VIP hostess, has accused the two-time Super Bowl winner of raping her in his penthouse suite in July 2008, when Roethlisberger was at Lake Tahoe for a celebrity golf tournament. The Associated Press, as a matter of policy, does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted.
The suit also alleges eight former or current Harrah's employees, including Monroe, Harrah's President John Koster and security chief Guy Hyder, orchestrated a cover-up of the incident.
Her suit seeks a minimum of $440,000 in damages from Roethlisberger, at least $50,000 in damages from the Harrah's officials and an unspecified amount of punitive damages.
Roethlisberger has denied the allegations, and his lawyers have characterized the woman as mentally unstable. Defense lawyers also have criticized her for not reporting the incident to police before filing her civil suit a year later, portraying her as a gold digger.
Advocates for sexual assault victims say failing to report incidents to police is not uncommon. The woman claims she was hospitalized on numerous occasions because of the trauma suffered in the alleged attack.
In motions filed last week, a lawyer for seven of the Harrah's employees said the suit amounts to the "vengeance of a woman scorned." Defense lawyers point to e-mails, reportedly sent from the woman to Hyder, in which she fantasizes about moving to Pittsburgh and having Roethlisberger's baby.
In her own affidavit, however, the woman said she was distraught and upset after the incident, and purchased a birth control method afterward because she feared she could be pregnant.