State investigators and police complete monthlong probe
April 8, 2010 8:00 AM
Ben Gray/Atlanta Journal-Constiution
Ocmulgee Judicial Court District Attorney Fredric D. Bright
By Dan Majors Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- Ocmulgee Judicial Court District Attorney Fredric D. Bright on Wednesday said he is reviewing the findings of the investigation into sexual assault allegations against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but he would not say when he might decide whether charges should be filed.
Mr. Bright can request more information or additional interviews before making his decision and said he would have no further comment at this time.
If Mr. Bright decides to pursue the case, he would take the matter before a grand jury, meaning it could be months before charges, if any, are filed.
Milledgeville police Chief Woodrow W. Blue Jr. and representatives of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation early this week concluded their monthlong investigation into the accusation made by a 20-year-old woman who said Mr. Roethlisberger assaulted her in a nightclub.
Mr. Roethlisberger has denied the allegation through his Atlanta-based attorneys.
The GBI, at the request of Milledgeville police, assigned several agents to assist with the investigation but would not comment on the bureau's findings.
The results of the investigation, which included the collection of evidence, review of videotapes and interviews with numerous witnesses, were forwarded by Chief Blue to Mr. Bright Tuesday evening.
Ed Garland, Mr. Roethlisberger's attorney, said, "Although we have not completely finished our investigation into the matter, we have been providing information to the GBI. It has been a very thorough investigation.
"Our position has been from the very beginning that no crime was committed.
"We hope Mr. Bright will carefully consider the information before him and reach the same conclusion."
A police officer was approached in the early hours of March 5 outside Capital City, a popular dance club in Milledgeville, by a young woman who said she had been assaulted by a man fitting Mr. Roethlisberger's description. Witnesses said the woman, a student at nearby Georgia College & State University, had been in the company of Mr. Roethlisberger, some of her friends and several of his companions, including two off-duty police officers who sometimes serve as the quarterback's bodyguards.
Mr. Roethlisberger, 28, owns a vacation home in Reynolds Plantation, an upscale community about 30 miles from Milledgeville, and had traveled to the tiny college town to celebrate his birthday.
Witnesses said Mr. Roethlisberger and his party visited three bars before going into Capital City, where he and those with him were escorted to a curtained-off VIP section in the back.
Police asked Mr. Roethlisberger about the incident that night and released him. The woman was taken to a nearby medical center, where she was treated and released.
On Monday, Mr. Bright took a 20-minute tour of the nightclub. He was accompanied by Carl Cansino, the attorney for the club's owner. Authorities would not comment on whether the tour was related to the Roethlisberger investigation.
Attorneys for the woman on Wednesday declined to comment on the investigation. Chief Blue said the department would have no further comment.
Mr. Roethlisberger still faces a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting a 30-year-old woman in a Lake Tahoe resort hotel in July 2008. Mr. Roethlisberger, through his attorneys, acknowledged having sex with the woman, an employee of the hotel, but said that it was consensual.
That suit, filed last summer, remains in limbo while the Nevada Supreme Court considers a change of venue appeal filed by attorneys for Mr. Roethlisberger and seven employees of Harrah's Lake Tahoe. The defendants want the trial to be conducted in Lake Tahoe, but it was filed and currently is set to be heard in Reno, Nev.
Calvin R.X. Dunlap, the attorney for the woman in Nevada, was in Milledgeville last week, following up on findings by a private investigator he employed to look into the more recent incident. Mr. Dunlap declined to comment on his visit.