Roethlisberger's lawyer releases e-mails in defense

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Less than 24 hours after she claims she was sexually assaulted by Ben Roethlisberger, his accuser sent an e-mail saying she was preparing to go to dinner with the Steelers quarterback and a few others, according to Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyer.

The note was among nearly two dozen e-mails and more than 150 instant messages that were released yesterday by Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyer, William David Cornwell Sr., of Atlanta.

"This golf tournament has been really fun," the woman said in her e-mail discussing the celebrity golf tournament Mr. Roethlisberger was attending in Lake Tahoe, Nev. "I am beat though because we are out until four in the morning by the time we are done.

"I am really excited because we are all going to see Journey tonight and that will be sooooo much fun. Speaking of which, I need to head over to a dinner with [Mr. Roethlisberger] and a few others before heading out. I will be back and working until at least 3am again."

The e-mails' tone and contents, Mr. Cornwell said, "prove she was not raped by Ben Roethlisberger."

Calvin R.X. Dunlap, the Reno, Nev.-based attorney for the plaintiff, did not return a request for comment last night. The Post-Gazette does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.

Mr. Roethlisberger has been sued in a civil complaint by a 31-year-old employee of Harrah's Lake Tahoe, who alleged that he raped her in his hotel room during a celebrity golf tournament last summer. The woman also sued eight co-workers who she said helped cover it up.

In her complaint, the plaintiff said the assault occurred "at or about 10:40 p.m." on July 11, 2008. The e-mail discussing the dinner with Mr. Roethlisberger and others was time-stamped at 6:43 p.m. the next day.

Mr. Cornwell said in a statement that "sexual assault cases often hinge on 'she said, he said,' " and the e-mails from Mr. Roethlisberger's accuser "directly refute the scurrilous allegations made in her complaint."

When asked about the authenticity of the e-mails that he released to news outlets, Mr. Cornwell replied in an e-mail to the Post-Gazette: "We have a good-faith basis to believe that these are [the plaintiff's] communications."

In a request for a change of venue filed in Reno, Nev., last week, Mr. Roethlisberger's attorneys pointed to a series of e-mails between the plaintiff and "a fictional soldier" that they said led to her having a "psychological breakdown."

According to an eight-page affidavit filed by Angela Antonetti, a former co-worker and friend of Mr. Roethlisberger's accuser, the online relationship was a hoax played upon the accuser by the wife of a married man with whom she'd had an affair.

"Soldier Ben," in the e-mails, is identified as the fictitious "Ben Millikan," who sent the plaintiff romantic and playful messages that led her to believe he would marry her upon his return from Iraq.

The e-mails released by Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyer begin July 9, two days before the woman claims she was raped, continue through the days after the alleged assault, and end five months later on Dec. 15.

Mr. Cornwell used the e-mails to point out what he said are contradictions between what Mr. Roethlisberger's accuser claims in her lawsuit and what she said in the exchanges with "Ben Millikan."

For example, he said, the accuser's complaint indicates that the alleged assault "took place on July 11, 2008, at or after 10:40 p.m." -- after which, she said, she left the building, "and went to her truck, in the parking lot, and drove away, very distraught and crying."

Yet in an e-mail to "Ben Millikan" at 12:41 a.m., about two hours later, Mr. Cornwell said, the plaintiff wrote: "aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh I finally got away."

In another e-mail nine minutes later, she wrote: "hahah I was just reading this and noticed you said 'tiored widdle bwue eyes ...' "

Mr. Cornwell also said, "Five months after she claims Mr. Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her, [the plaintiff] apparently tells Ben Millikan: 'I would date Ben Roethlisberger,'" if her online boyfriend and she broke up.

When "Ben Millikan" makes light of her claim, she informs him, "I'm dead serious. ... [Mr. Roethlisberger] said he would take me to this place he has in Wyoming and they horseback into this fishing hole and camp."

Mr. Cornwell said the e-mails "are merely the tip of the investigative iceberg" and that the plaintiff "should abandon her lawsuit immediately and admit that Ben Roethlisberger did not rape her."

In a court filing Monday in Reno, an attorney for Stacy Dingman, one of the Harrah's employees sued in the case, asked a court to dismiss the counts against her. Ms. Dingman, who no longer works for Harrah's, was sued by her former co-worker for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, trespass, defamation and conspiracy.


Dan Majors can be reached at dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456. Amy McConnell Schaarsmith can be reached at aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1122.


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