Steelers QB accused of sexual assault in Georgia
Associated Press Writer
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. (AP) – A 20-year-old college student accused Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her at a nightclub early Friday during a night on the town near where he owns a lake home.
Police said the alleged assault occurred early Friday morning in Milledgeville, about 85 miles southeast of Atlanta. The player owns a home about 30 miles to the north on Lake Oconee.
The two-time Super Bowl champion, who turned 28 on Tuesday, and some of his friends were seen visiting local restaurants and bars Thursday night.
Deputy Police Chief Richard Malone said Roethlisberger had been with three other people who were mingling with another group that included the alleged victim. Malone said the woman, a 20-year-old college student, and her party contacted a nearby police officer following the alleged assault.
“He’s been identified as being at the scene and there are allegations naming him as the perpetrator,” Malone said.
Several areas of the nightclub were considered a crime scene, Malone said, but he would not elaborate.
Roethlisberger and the alleged victim have been interviewed and the woman was taken to a hospital, where she was treated and released, Malone said.
The victim was not identified by police and The Associated Press does not generally identify possible victims of sexual abuse.
Police said Roethlisberger and his attorney were cooperating with investigators. He was not in custody and has not been charged with a crime.
The allegations are especially sensitive for Roethlisberger, who has been sued by a woman who claims he raped her in 2008 at a Lake Tahoe hotel. He denies those allegations and has asked for counter-damages.
The player’s agent, Ryan Tollner, said in a statement that they are skeptical of the motive of the alleged victim in Milledgeville because of the previous Lake Tahoe allegations.
“Last night, Ben and his friends met a group of women and everyone mingled together throughout the evening,” the statement said. “We have spoken to law enforcement. Based on information currently available, an allegation was made against Ben, which appeared to be dismissed after a preliminary investigation last night. Obviously, given the prior accusation against Ben, we are skeptical of motive, but we will continue to cooperate with everyone involved.”
Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said the team was gathering information and had no more comment.
The nightclub, Capital City, is a popular spot for college students who attend Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville. It was crowded Friday night, with a country band playing, and there was a $20 cover charge to get in.
One patron, 21-year-old college student Brandon Harris, said he saw Roethlisberger come in the night before with two or three big men, who were keeping other club goers away from the player.
The group went into a curtained VIP area in the back of the club, and some women were let inside.
The owner of a restaurant near the nightclub said Roethlisberger and some of his friends came in earlier Thursday night.
“He was very polite with everybody,” said Frank Pendergrast, owner of The Brick. “He was down here from about 11:30 until about 1:30 having a good time, talking to a lot of people. Looked like he was signing autographs and letting people take pictures. Other than that, it was really uneventful.”
Before that, the group went to Buffington’s, another downtown bar, to watch the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball game, said Paul Kurcikevicus, a 24-year-old college student.
He said the group was friendly, at first joking that Roethlisberger was not the NFL player. Kurcikevicus said Roethlisberger bought some shots for other people in the bar: O-Bombs, a mixture of energy drink and flavored rum.
Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick out of Miami of Ohio in 2004, Roethlisberger led the Steelers to Super Bowl victories in 2006 and 2009. While he has been a huge success on the field, Roethlisberger has had his share of problems off it.
Besides the Lake Tahoe allegations, Roethlisberger broke his jaw and several other facial bones in 2006 when he got into a motorcycle crash while driving without a valid license.
Associated Press Writer Don Schanche in Atlanta contributed to this report.