Officers were with Roethlisberger
Share with others:
When Ben Roethlisberger went bar-hopping in Georgia on the night he allegedly sexually assaulted a local college student, a pair of lawmen from Western Pennsylvania were on vacation with him.
Coraopolis police Officer Anthony J. Barravecchio and Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Ed Joyner of the Washington barracks formed part of an entourage of Mr. Roethlisberger's close friends who were helping the Steelers quarterback celebrate his 28th birthday, which was March 2.
Neither officer has been contacted by Georgia authorities as part of the ongoing investigation into the assault accusation, Officer Barravecchio's lawyer, Michael F. Santicola, said Wednesday.
"They haven't given any statements, and they haven't been asked to," Mr. Santicola said.
Mr. Santicola described himself as friends with Trooper Joyner and said that he received a phone call from the trooper about the situation.
Mr. Santicola said he has not spoken to Trooper Joyner, however.
Although the officers have worked for Mr. Roethlisberger in the past, this time they were off duty and doing nothing more than palling around with their longtime friend, according to Mr. Santicola.
"Both of these guys are friends with Ben," Mr. Santicola said. "They went down together. They were completely sober the night of this occurrence. They're cooperating completely with whatever investigation is ongoing."
The officers were not in uniform, not providing security and not being paid, Mr. Santicola said.
Also present were Steelers tackle Willie Colon and several other friends whose identities Mr. Santicola did not know.
Both Officer Barravecchio and Trooper Joyner were inside the Capital City club in Milledgeville, the night spot where Mr. Roethlisberger is accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old student at Georgia College & State University late March 4 or early March 5.
Mr. Roethlisberger's legal team has denied the accusations.
"They were there, yes," Mr. Santicola said. "I don't believe these guys could pick her out of a lineup."
Milledgeville police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are seeking a DNA sample from Mr. Roethlisberger and have collected evidence from the nightclub. Part of the suspected crime scene is a women's rest room in the area where Mr. Roethlisberger and his friends were socializing.
Mr. Santicola said he could not discuss Officer Barravecchio's version of the evening's events because he had not conferred with Mr. Roethlisberger's lawyers.
He said, however, that he does not believe his client saw the quarterback going into the ladies' room.
"There's limited knowledge there. These guys were not in the same place at every moment in time," Mr. Santicola said.
Investigators have said that the alleged victim's party approached a Milledgeville police officer after leaving Capital City.
The officer spoke briefly with the woman and Mr. Roethlisberger, who was allowed to leave. Then the woman went to a hospital, where evidence was collected.
Mr. Santicola said the Milledgeville officer did not request identification from Officer Barravecchio or Trooper Joyner and did not take down their names or other information.
"There might have been some conversation [with the Milledgeville officer], but very little. There might have been a 'what's going on' kind of a thing. It wasn't directed at these guys."
Officer Joyner asked his bosses in April 2005 for permission to work for Mr. Roethlisberger as a driver and assistant.
"According to Trooper Joyner's request, his prospective duties involved assisting Roethlisberger during public appearances before and after Pittsburgh Steelers home games, as well as during autograph sessions and charity events.
"The trooper's prospective duties also involved answering fan mail and phone calls. With this understanding, the department authorized Trooper Joyner to engage in this supplemental employment. The authorization is current," state police Lt. Myra Taylor said in an e-mail.
Lt. Taylor did not answer questions about whether Trooper Joyner had followed proper protocols to notify state police of the incident. She said the state police had not been contacted by Georgia authorities.
Coraopolis police Chief Alan DeRusso did not return several messages seeking comment about Officer Barravecchio.
But borough council President Robert Barone said, "He was down there and my question was 'Was he on vacation or not?' And the chief said, 'Yes, he was on vacation.' "
Mr. Colon's agent, Joe Linta, said: "Willie has no knowledge of any incident, alleged or otherwise."
Mr. Santicola said he believes the officers became friendly with Mr. Roethlisberger while they were providing security at various charity golf events the quarterback has attended over the years.
It is not unusual for police officers to moonlight for sports teams. Some departments are more rigorous than others in terms of approving and monitoring such secondary employment.
The state police note that troopers are expected to uphold a high standard even while working off duty.
"Members of the Pennsylvania State Police are required, at all times, to comply with all laws, rules and regulations. They are also required to engage in behavior and deportment, both on and off duty, that reflect our core values of duty, service and respect," Lt. Taylor wrote in her e-mail.
"Naturally, these standards apply to members who are authorized under department regulations to engage in supplemental employment while off-duty."
First Published March 11, 2010 12:00 am