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College student accuses Roethlisberger of sexual assault

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Saturday, March 6, 2010
 

For the second time in eight months, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman.

The latest allegations against Roethlisberger, who was accused in July of sexually assaulting a casino worker during a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada a year earlier, stem from an incident that a 20-year-old college student told police occurred early Friday at a dance club in Milledgeville, Ga.

No criminal charges have been filed against Roethlisberger, but Milledgeville police said at a news conference that they have spoken to Roethlisberger once and plan to interview him again.

"It is alleged (Roethlisberger) is the perpetrator," said Richard Malone, the deputy police chief in Milledgeville. "We have been in touch with his attorneys, and they are going to make available all the personnel to talk to us who were here last night."

Roethlisberger's agent, Ryan Tollner, acknowledged police have talked with Roethlisberger.

"Last night, Ben and his friends met a group of women and everyone mingled together throughout the evening," Tollner said in a statement. "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."

Daniel McDonald, a reporter for The Union-Recorder in Milledgeville, said the woman told police she was assaulted in the Capital Club, a popular gathering spot for students. Milledgeville, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta, is the home of Georgia College & State University.

Roethlisberger, who turned 28 on Tuesday, has a winter home in Reynolds Plantation, a resort community on Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Ga., about 40 miles north of Milledgeville.

"(Roethlisberger) has been identified as being at the scene," Malone said. "We will hear from his attorney as soon as he is able to confer with his client."

Malone said the two-time Super Bowl champion and three friends had been with the woman and her friends before they went to the dance club.

"What we have been able to determine is that they had all been together earlier that evening at other establishments as a group," he said.

Malone said he knows of no other Steelers present at the club.

Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said: "We are gathering information on the report, and we will have no other comment at this time."

National Football League spokesman Greg Aiello had no comment.

Malone revealed no details of the alleged assault other than to say the woman told police it occurred at various places in the club between 2 and 2:30 a.m.

The woman then contacted a police officer who talked briefly with her and Roethlisberger between 2:30 and 3 a.m., Malone said.

"There was an initial interview with (Roethlisberger) as well as with the victim in the case. ... We had a situation where we weren't able to hold everybody at the same time. He was released with his party. ... Then our consideration was to seek the proper (medical) attention for the victim and start collecting evidence."

McDonald said the woman was released after treatment in Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville.

"Obviously, given the prior accusation against Ben, we are skeptical of a motive but will continue to cooperate with everyone involved," Tollner said.

Malone said investigators plan to interview several witnesses and analyze forensic evidence obtained at the hospital. He said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting his department and that the Baldwin County District Attorney's Office will be consulted.

The owner of a restaurant near the nightclub said Roethlisberger and some of his friends came in 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."

The Nevada casino worker filed a civil lawsuit against Roethlisberger in July, claiming he sexually assaulted her in July 2008 while playing in a celebrity golf tournament at Harrah's Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino. No criminal charges were filed, and the lawsuit remains unresolved.

Roethlisberger, who has denied the Nevada allegations, was the Steelers' first-round draft pick out of Miami University of Ohio in 2004 and the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. He is one of only 10 quarterbacks to win more than one Super Bowl.

He set the Steelers' single-season record in 2009 with 4,328 passing yards and was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl but declined the invitation because of a shoulder injury.

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