Attorney: Two local officers were with Roethlisberger

| Thursday, March 11, 2010

Two Pittsburgh-area police officers were celebrating Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's 28th birthday with him last week in Georgia when a woman there accused the two-time Super Bowl champion of sexual assault, an attorney said Wednesday.

Coraopolis Officer Anthony Barravecchio and state police Trooper Ed Joyner accompanied Roethlisberger and others to a series of bars in Milledgeville, Ga., the college town close to where Roethlisberger owns a home, said Beaver County attorney Michael Santicola.

"They are all friends, and they were together to celebrate," said Santicola, who is representing Barravecchio and described himself as Joyner's friend. "They saw absolutely nothing that would indicate any crime was committed that weekend. They are a little bit shocked that this is even happening because they saw nothing criminal."

Police in Georgia are investigating the accusations leveled by the 20-year-old student at Georgia College & State University. They have not charged anyone.

Authorities said this week they wanted to again interview Roethlisberger and about eight members of his entourage from the night of March 4.

Santicola said Joyner called him and left a message regarding the incident, but the two have not yet spoken. He said Georgia authorities have not contacted or questioned Barravecchio or Joyner.

"They will cooperate to the fullest extent," Santicola said.

A woman who answered the phone at Barravecchio's Coraopolis home said he had no comment. Joyner could not be reached.

Coraopolis police Chief Alan DeRusso said Barravecchio was on vacation last week and returned to work Monday. He said the officer discussed the eventful trip with him, but the chief would not disclose what he had said.

Santicola said Barravecchio, a former defensive tackle for the now-defunct Pittsburgh Power semi-pro football team, was the designated driver the evening of the incident and was "completely sober."

Joyner works out of the Washington County state police station. Lt. Myra Taylor, a spokesman for the department in Harrisburg, said Joyner submitted a request in April 2005 for supplemental employment, indicating he would act as a driver and assistant to Roethlisberger at home games, autograph sessions and charity events, as well as field fan mail and phone calls.

Taylor said Georgia authorities have not contacted state police regarding the incident, and she didn't know whether Joyner was questioned. She declined to answer any other questions regarding Joyner or his involvement with Roethlisberger.

Santicola and DeRusso said Barravecchio doesn't work for the quarterback. Roethlisberger has been to the Coraopolis police station and invited people to his Georgia home before, DeRusso said.

He said his department has not been contacted by authorities in Georgia.

Coraopolis Councilman Anthony Celeste said Barravecchio and the quarterback are "good friends" and have been to Celeste's Anthony Jr.'s Pizzeria in Coraopolis "many times."

Roethlisberger makes frequent appearances at law enforcement events and fundraisers. He has been seen wearing memorial T-shirts for slain officers and a state police cap during television interviews.

The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation awards grants to police and fire departments and earlier this month donated more than $4,000 to Castle Shannon police to support its K-9 dog program.

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