Roethlisberger lawyers fire legal broadside in sex lawsuit

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The woman accusing Ben Roethlisberger of raping her is "disturbed and unprincipled," fabricating the assault to save her job and extort a large payoff from the Steelers quarterback, his lawyers said in court documents that ask a Nevada judge to dismiss the case.

An "immediate psychiatric examination is plainly warranted" for the 31-year-old woman, a self-proclaimed "sex addict" whose "severe mental health problems" were affecting her job performance, the lawyers claim. Those problems might render her "legally incompetent to proceed" with the case, they wrote.

The 51-page document, filed late Friday in Reno, Nev., came one day after the woman's lawyer, Calvin R.X. Dunlap, asked the court to sanction Mr. Roethlisberger's legal team because it is trying to "bully her" into dropping her suit. Mr. Dunlap, who could not be reached for comment last night, wrote that Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyers suggested they might countersue the woman for defamation, which he said borders on criminal extortion.

"Calculating the exact amount of damage plaintiff and her counsel have inflicted on Mr. Roethlisberger and his reputation will be left for another day and another proceeding," the quarterback's attorneys wrote in Friday's filing.

The accuser, a former VIP host at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, claims Mr. Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her while staying at the casino-hotel for a celebrity golf tournament in July 2008. She is seeking at least $440,000 in damages from Mr. Roethlisberger and at least $50,000 in damages from the eight Harrah's employees she has named in her lawsuit.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does not identify alleged victims of sexual assaults.

The latest filings from Mr. Roethlisberger's legal team ask the court to throw out the woman's suit and prevent her from refiling it.

Months before she filed the suit, the woman and her lawyer "commenced their plan to guarantee her job security and extract an extortionate payoff by making Mr. Roethlisberger the scapegoat of an employment dispute between [the woman], who was enduring severe mental health problems impacting her job performance, and Harrah's Lake Tahoe," Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyers wrote.

According to the document, Mr. Dunlap sent a letter to Harrah's in April saying her job security was of "paramount importance" and "asserting claims to monetary recovery."

"Our client is currently struggling with whether or not she wants to come forward and seek criminal prosecution of the celebrity," he reportedly wrote.

After Harrah's refuted the woman's claims and made clear that no payment was forthcoming, Mr. Dunlap planned to "sling as much salacious mud as could be mustered against those who would not support [her] false claims," said Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyers.

"We look forward to examining the Harrah's executives and employees' e-mails, online communications, personal lives, sexual conduct, extra-marital affairs and medical histories with the same vigor and in the same depth that they have felt relevant and necessary in your letter of response to this tragic occurrence," the documents say Mr. Dunlap wrote.

Mr. Roethlisberger's attorneys said the plaintiff and her legal team deliberately timed the filing of the suit last month to coincide with the opening of National Football League training camp, "which ensured that the complaint would garner the attention of the national media, a critical element in her plan to exploit Mr. Roethlisberger's celebrity status to her advantage."

The woman's strategy, according to the documents, is "to use our society's unfortunate and unquenchable thirst for tawdry stories about celebrities and athletes to sensationalize these proceedings and to soil the name and reputation that Mr. Roethlisberger has spent years cultivating through his athletic prowess and his charitable endeavors."

Mr. Roethlisberger's attorneys charge that the woman is mentally unstable, having been hospitalized for depression and anxiety and having suffered a psychological breakdown after having an affair with a married man. They said the "media circus" surrounding her "reckless decision to sue a professional athlete" will only intensify, and "it is impossible to foresee the degree to which this reality will exacerbate her already fragile mental state."

They ask the court to force her to swiftly undergo a medical examination, because she says Mr. Roethlisberger caused her emotional distress.

The woman also alleges that her co-workers covered up the rape, a charge that Mr. Roethlisberger's attorneys called "fiction." She never told her co-workers, including a mentor, that she had been harmed by Mr. Roethlisberger, nor did she tell her parents or close friends, his lawyers wrote.

Instead, they said, she bragged about having consensual sex with him, saying it was "soooo good," and he was "the best ever."

If a judge won't dismiss the suit, Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyers want many of her "specific immaterial, impertinent and scandalous claims" stricken.

Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyers this month filed a motion for a change of venue from Reno and attached to it an affidavit from the accuser's former friend and Harrah's co-worker Angela Antonetti.

Mr. Dunlap said in his new motion filed on Thursday and made public on Friday that the affidavit was "unrelated and wholly irrelevant" to the question of whether the trial should be moved closer to Lake Tahoe.

"The clear intent of both filings is to intimidate the plaintiff and dissuade her from pursuing her rights in court in this very serious matter," Mr. Dunlap wrote. He said it also was an attempt to persuade him to "abandon plaintiff and her case or risk personal liability."

"This conduct not only warrants discipline and sanctions, but warrants denial of the privilege of practicing law in the state of Nevada," he said.


The Associated Press contributed. Sadie Gurman can be reached at sgurman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1878.


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