|Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger made his first public statement since he was accused of sexual assault last month. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)|
No charges for Roethlisberger
DA drops assault case; QB will ‘move forward’
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t face criminal charges after a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexually assaulting her inside a Georgia nightclub’s bathroom March 5.
Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said yesterday that after exhaustive interviews and inconclusive medical exams, the student’s accusations could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He also revealed the accuser no longer wanted him to prosecute.
The accuser’s family also hired lawyers, who eventually sent a letter to Bright saying the woman did not want a trial because it would be “a very intrusive personal experience.’’
Bright said he ultimately decided against moving forward partly because he was never able to find out what happened behind the bathroom door at the Capital City club.
“Here the overall circumstances do not lead to a viable prosecution. If they did, I would be pursuing it vigorously,’’ Bright said. “We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes.’’
Roethlisberger, in his first public remarks since the accusations, read a 74-second statement from a podium in the Steelers locker room.
“The prosecutor’s decision not to bring charges, I know without a doubt, is the right conclusion,’’ said Roethlisberger. “I don’t intend to discuss any details related to the events of Georgia. I’m happy to put this behind me and move forward.’’
Roethlisberger also did not discuss his upcoming meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or any possible punishment that might come from the league or the Steelers for violating the players’ conduct code.
“I am excited to get back to work with my teammates, and I’m more determined than ever to have a great season,’’ he said.
The encounter took place after a night of bar-hopping in Milledgeville, about 30 miles from where Roethlisberger owns a lake home. Roethlisberger, who was out drinking with friends to celebrate his 28th birthday, bumped into the student and her sorority sisters throughout the night. They linked up at Capital City, where he invited them to a VIP section and bought them a round of shots.
As the night wore on, the student walked down a dingy hallway to a small bathroom, and Roethlisberger soon followed. What happened next remained unclear.
The student told police she had been sexually assaulted, but medical results were less clear. While some DNA was found, there was not enough to determine whom it belonged to, Bright said.
“We understood that was part of it, but we just felt like even with that, it was worth it,’’ general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. “Obviously, a guy with his production and at 26 years old, he would not have been available if these indiscretions didn’t happen and obviously the suspension. But, with that said, we just felt like the risk and the price was reasonable for us.’’
Holmes is eligible to participate in the team’s offseason program and in all preseason practices and exhibition games. He would be suspended for an entire season if he violates the league’s policy again.
“To go back down the same road, make the same mistakes, won’t be accepted,’’ Holmes said.
Holmes is coming off his best season, with 79 catches for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns. But he is also facing a lawsuit in Florida from a woman who claims he threw a glass at her, cutting her above the eye, in an Orlando nightclub. A witness has since taken responsibility, according to Holmes’s lawyer.
“It wasn’t me,’’ Holmes said. “I never tried to defend myself on that topic among anyone on Twitter or among anyone that tried to ask me for interviews. I would definitely be accountable for my actions if I did say it.’’
Holmes was walking his dog at home Sunday night when he received an unexpected phone call from the Steelers informing him of his trade.
“I was very shocked at first,’’ Holmes said. “But, I knew it definitely opened up a lot more doors and a better opportunity for me to start over.’’
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, citing anonymous sources, that the Steelers were prepared to release Holmes if they couldn’t find a trade partner.
“The opportunity presented itself for the Jets to acquire me, and I’m definitely here for a reason,’’ Holmes said.
Campbell was given permission to explore a trade after Donovan McNabb was acquired from Philadelphia last week. Campbell couldn’t find a team that would make a suitable offer to him as a restricted free agent, so he signed the tender.
Campbell is not expected to attend this weekend’s three-day minicamp.
Hill was arrested and booked early Sunday for investigation of assault in the fourth degree/domestic violence. According to a release from Issaquah police, officers responded to a complaint of a domestic dispute late Saturday night at the Hill residence.
Police said Hill’s girlfriend had obvious marks and injuries indicating an assault had occurred and she alleged Hill had caused the injuries. Hill was taken into custody without incident, and he posted bail and was released.