Roethlisberger accused of sexual assault in Georgia

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A 20-year-old student in Milledgeville, Ga., has accused Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her at a dance club early this morning.

"We had a sexual assault report," Milledgeville Deputy Chief Richard Malone said during a news conference tonight. "It is alleged that he was the perpetrator."

Deputy Chief Malone said investigators have spoken with Mr. Roethlisberger and the alleged victim, and they are in contact with the quarterback's lawyers to arrange another interview.

"He was initially interviewed by our officers. We had a situation where we weren't able to get hold of everybody at the same time. He was released with his party, and then we took care of our victim, who was at the hospital," Deputy Chief Malone said.

The incident was reported between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. to a Milledgeville police officer working in the college town's downtown area. Members of the woman's party identified Mr. Roethlisberger as her assailant.

"She approached the officer. The officer spoke with all members of her party, and then she was given the opportunity to go to the hospital, and that was our main concern at that point," Deputy Chief Malone said.

Investigators conducted initial interviews between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Deputy Chief Malone would not speculate on possible criminal charges that might apply based on the woman's allegations.

Earlier today, Mr. Roethlisberger's agent, Ryan Tollner, confirmed that an allegation had been made against Mr.Roethlisberger.

"Last night, Ben and his friends met a group of women and everyone mingled together throughout the evening," Mr. Tollner said. "We have spoken to law enforcement."

Mr. Tollner said he understood that the allegations "appeared to be dismissed after a preliminary investigation," but Milledgeville police made it clear at their news conference that the investigation was far from over.

The incident is alleged to have occurred at Capitol City, a club in Milledgeville.

The alleged victim was treated and released at the Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville.

Assisting local police with the investigation is the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a statewide police agency that has an office in Milledgeville.

The Steelers said only that they were aware of the investigation.

"We're gathering information on the report and we will have no other comment at this time," a team spokesman said.

In July 2009, a 31-year-old Nevada woman accused Mr. Roethlisberger in a lawsuit of raping her in his hotel room at Harrah's Lake Tahoe in July 2008 while she worked as a VIP hostess during a celebrity golf tournament.

The woman also has sued several current or former Harrah's employees, alleging that they tried to cover up the incident.

Mr. Roethlisberger denied the charges and the civil suit has been halted since late last year pending the outcome of an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court seeking a change of venue by the Steelers quarterback and one of his co-defendants.

No criminal charges were filed in the Nevada case.

Mr. Roethlisberger, whose 28th birthday was Tuesday, spends much of the off-season at a home he owns in a resort community in Greensboro, Ga., an hour north of Milledgeville.

Jonathan D. Silver: More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. or 412-263-1962. Tom Birdsong: or 412-263-3068.


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