MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger posed for photos with some of the officers who, about an hour later, questioned him in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault.
Milledgeville police Sgt. Jerry Blash, Detective Everett January, Lt. Willie Goddard and Officer Paul Cressman appeared in one of the photos along with Georgia College & State University Public Safety Officer Nick Reonas.
Sgt. Blash, who was initially approached by the alleged victim and who wrote a report about it, appears in a group shot with the others and then in a close-up shot with the quarterback.
Sgt. Blash is in uniform in both pictures.
"None of the officers were involved in the investigation after the supervisor [Lt. Goddard] did the initial report," Milledgeville police chief Woodrow Blue said Friday. "After that, it went to the detectives and we are working that with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation."
Chief Blue stressed that by posing for the photos, the officers did not violate any department policy and won't jeopardize the investigation of the happenings inside the Capital City nightclub involving Mr. Roethlisberger.
"Those photos were taken over an hour before the alleged incident happened," Chief Blue said. "They were taken at a different location, I would say about a block and a half away [from the Capital City]."
Chief Blue, who would not answer any questions about the ongoing investigation, said Mr. Roethlisberger's party, which included off-duty Coraopolis police Officer Anthony Barravecchio and off-duty Pennsylvania State Trooper Ed Joyner, sought out his officers.
"In the group photo, the officers were out there just talking," Chief Blue said. "The officers were actually approached by someone in Mr. Roethlisberger's party who came up to them and asked them if Mr. Roethlisberger could get his photo taken with the law enforcement agents."
Mr. Roethlisberger has a fondness for police dogs. Since 2006, his foundation has given several hundred thousand dollars to dozens of K-9 agencies in the Pittsburgh area and in cities where the Steelers play.
The photos were taken on a Thursday night, generally a lively time in Milledgeville's compact Downtown, and police are especially vigilant in the bar district, the chief said.
"Three of the officers were off duty and the other two were working, one was working a downtown detail," Chief Blue said.
Chief Blue spent a couple of hours Friday answering questions about the photos. Asked whether too much was being made of them, Chief Blue looked up from his desk, smiled broadly and replied simply, "Yes."
Colin Dunlap: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1459. First Published March 13, 2010 5:00 AM