Co-workers testify that Roethlisberger's accuser wasn't assaulted
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Three friends and co-workers of the woman accusing Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of sexual assault have testified that, based on their conversations with her, they believed the sex was consensual.
The co-workers, two of whom have been named as defendants in the lawsuit, also said they did not report the encounter to superiors at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, where the woman worked, because the hotel would have fired her for violating a policy forbidding employees to visit guests in their rooms.
The affidavits are among a number of exhibits submitted to Washoe County Court in Reno, Nev., by Roethlisberger's attorneys. Also included are subpoenas for records from the woman's Facebook and e-mail accounts and records from at least five health and medical centers where she has been treated in the past year.
The last exhibit in the recent filings is an affidavit from Dr. Margo M. Leahy, a California-licensed psychiatrist, recommending "a comprehensive independent medical examination be conducted on the plaintiff."
Calvin R.X. Dunlap, the Reno-based attorney for the 31-year-old woman, could not be reached for comment. The Post-Gazette does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.
The woman has filed a civil suit against Roethlisberger claiming he assaulted her in his hotel room while in Lake Tahoe for a July 2008 charity golf outing. She also has sued eight current or former Harrah's Lake Tahoe employees, claiming they protected the hotel and Roethlisberger.
William T. Santos, of Newport Beach, Calif., a former friend and co-worker of the plaintiff, testified he was Roethlisberger's butler at Harrah's during the golf event. He said he one day saw her engaged in "a flirtatious conversation" with Roethlisberger.
"[She] indicated to me that Mr. Roethlisberger had asked her to visit his hotel room. [She] said she would like to go to his hotel room.
"But then she said, 'I would get in trouble if I went to his room, right?' I responded that of course she would get in trouble with Harrah's. An employee who visits a guest's room at Harrah's for a non-work-related reason (including for sex or to have a drink), even if the employee is invited, is subject to termination for violating company practice prohibiting such conduct."
Santos also said he was in the hotel when the woman claims to have been assaulted, but that she did not call him. And when he saw her the next day, he said, she "appeared normal and not distraught, upset or depressed."
Stacy Dingman, former director of hotel operations for Harrah's Lake Tahoe, said she was the plaintiff's supervisor, mentor and "best friend," and that her children called the plaintiff "Auntie."
"Mr. Roethlisberger was a low-key, low-maintenance guest," Dingman said, adding that the plaintiff "willingly flirted" with him.
The morning after the alleged assault, Dingman said, the plaintiff came to her home.
"She sprawled across my bed, stretching her arms over her head in what seemed to be sheer delight. [She] told me that she had had a sexual encounter with Mr. Roethlisberger, that the interaction was the 'best ever,' ... and that she did not care if it ever happened again because it was 'soooo good.' [She] also indicated that she thought there would be more sexual interactions with Mr. Roethlisberger because [they] had plans to go fly-fishing and camping in the near future.
"At no point did [she] indicate anything negative about Mr. Roethlisberger or that he supposedly sexually assaulted her. Had she done so, I would have immediately called the police and taken her to a hospital."
Dingman said the only thing about which the plaintiff expressed a concern was whether the butlers on duty had seen her leaving Roethlisberger's room after having sex with him.
Dingman testified that in January 2009, she received a call from the plaintiff in which the accuser recast her encounter with Roethlisberger as "awful," and said "she had been scared."
"She stated that she was so 'grossed-out and disgusted' that when she got home she immediately took off all of the clothes that she was wearing and shoes, threw them into a trash bag and still had that bag in her garage."
Markleville, Calif., resident Guy Hyder, one of the defendants, was employed as director of security at Harrah's at the time and also called the plaintiff a "very close" friend, saying she "treated me like a second father."
"She said to me that she had sex with Mr. Roethlisberger," he said. "[She] was not upset or distraught when she made that disclosure. [She] never indicated that she was assaulted in any way."
Hyder, who has been targeted by the lawsuit for not acting on her complaint, said he did not tell superiors of the incident "because [she] was my friend, and I was afraid she might indeed be fired for violating the policy against engaging in sexual relations with a guest. If [she] had said anything about being sexually assaulted by Mr. Roethlisberger, I would have reported it to the proper authorities."
First Published August 25, 2009 12:00 am