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Authorities wrap Roethlisberger investigation

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The investigation into the alleged sexual assault of a 20-year-old Georgia student by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in the hands of the district attorney.

Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright on Tuesday evening received a report, including all witness statements, compiled by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Milledgeville Police Department, according to the two agencies.

"There will be no further statements until a decision has been made by the DA," according to a joint statement by GBI and Milledgeville authorities.

A sorority sister at Milledgeville's Georgia College and State University accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her in a staff restroom of the popular Capital City nightclub early March 5, triggering a month-long investigation by Milledgeville and GBI detectives.

Milledgeville is about 80 miles south of Atlanta and 30 miles north of Roethlisberger's lakeside mansion in the posh Great Waters section of Putnam County. The assault allegedly followed a four-hour pub crawl by Roethlisberger and an entourage witnesses said numbered between eight and 10 bulky men.

Around 2:30 a.m. March 5, the young accuser told Milledgeville police that Roethlisberger had sexually assaulted her. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review does not reveal the names of alleged victims of sexual assault.

Attorneys for the 20-year-old accuser did not return messages seeking comment about the investigation. A native of the northern Atlanta suburbs, she briefly left school to be with her family shortly after the alleged assault but has since returned to class and was recently re-interviewed by detectives.

Roethlisberger was briefly interviewed by Georgia authorities hours after the alleged attack and has exercised his constitutional right to remain silent ever since.

His Atlanta criminal defense attorney, Edward T.M. Garland, told the Trib that his team of private investigators "have completed 98 percent of my investigation and we have provided information to the district attorney, too.

"My position remains the same from Day 1: No crime was committed."

It remains unknown if DA Bright disagrees. Bright represents Baldwin and eight other middle Georgia counties. Bright will decide whether to charge Roethlisberger, drop the matter or hand it off to a grand jury to weigh an indictment.

Bright has yet to ask Baldwin County Clerk of Superior Court Rosemary Fordham Phillips to convene a grand jury, which she could do as soon as the middle of May but more likely in July, a week or so before players report for Steelers' training camp in Latrobe.

"I haven't received an order to convene it," said Phillips. "One just met in March. Right now, it's up to Fred Bright if he's ready or not to go. If he says that he will be ready by the middle of May for it, then we will do it, but if that's too short for him then the next one could be convened in mid-July."

For Roethlisberger, he now has earned as many Super Bowl rings as accusations of sexual assault, the previous one part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by a female casino employee who claims the quarterback raped her in 2008.

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