What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
The last time I weighed in on this case, I made it a point to state that rushing to judgement in a criminal matter was a mistake; that time was needed for the process to play itself out. I stated that it is CRUCIAL that the facts of what actually happened come to light. Until then, all the speculation and pontificating only serves to cloud the true picture, and frankly, makes those who engage in it look foolish.
Now the process has brought the conclusion of an investigation resulting in a 572-page report resplendent in horrifying details. Now there’s no more speculation about what happened; yet only two facts emerged:
Now that some details are coming to light in the DA’s 572-page document, I have reached my conclusion. This really appears to be one of those cases where both parties engaged to create a perfect storm irresponsibility, stupidity, and alcohol that left a lot of damage in its wake. First of all, look at the ugly accusations that are being reported (you can view the entire document at Smoking Gun). Nobody is going to escape unscathed in a situation where words like “rape” are getting thrown about.
“The woman told police that the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback raped her in a bathroom adjacent to the VIP section of the Capital City club.” “In one of two handwritten police statements, the woman recalled that she told Roethlisberger, “No, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me. He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything.” After the woman reconnected with friends, they left the club and “went to the first police car we saw,” according to one statement.” “The alleged victim, in a second statement, told investigators that she met Roethlisberger at The Velvet Elvis, a Milledgeville bar where the athlete called her and her friends “a tease.” Later, at Capital City, the football star’s bodyguards “told my friends they couldn’t pass through to get to me,” she recalled. A Milledgeville Police Department incident report indicates that the woman, whose name was redacted from investigative reports, initially told a cop that she was “sexually assaulted or sexually manipulated” by Roethlisberger.” “The GBI documents, which were provided to TSG in response to an open records request, include interview reports with several of the alleged victim’s friends, all of whom are sorority sisters from Georgia College and State University.” “One witness, Ann Marie Lubatti, told investigators that she saw one of Roethlisberger’s bodyguards guide the alleged victim to a side door. Lubatti said that she immediately approached another bodyguard and said, “This isn’t right. My friend is back there with Ben. She needs to come back right now.” Lubatti, who described Roethlisberger as “noticeably intoxicated,” said she was rebuffed by the bodyguard, who remarked, “I don’t know what you are talking about.” “When Lubatti later spotted her friend, the alleged victim said, “We need to go now.” Lubatti said the woman told her that Roethlisberger “walked back to where she was with his penis already out of his pants. She told him that they shouldn’t be doing this and that it wasn’t right.” The woman told Lubatti that Roethlisberger had followed her into the bathroom and shut the door. “She continued to say she didn’t want to have sex, but he kept saying, “No, it’s OK.” Lubatti said that her friend told of having unprotected sex with Roethlisberger. After hearing her friend’s account, Lubatti and another woman, Nicole Biancofiore, “walked up to the first cop we saw and told them what happened.” “Biancofiore also told police about seeing her friend disappear with Roethlisberger inside the club. She recalled telling the club’s owner that her friend was “too drunk to be back there” with Roethlisberger, adding that the man assured her that “Ben would not do anything to ruin his reputation.” Biancofiore said that when her friend resurfaced, the woman was crying and “she told us he raped her.”
Nobody reads stuff like that without having a visceral reaction. But, it is important to understand these are only accusations. It cannot be ignored that by not filing criminal charges, it is the position of the prosecutor that either a) Roethlisberger’s actions did not meet the criteria to be defined as “sexual assault” and/or b) there was not sufficient evidence to support a claim that he in fact committed a crime. However, even though I’ve defended Roethlisberger up to this point, he is lucky is not facing a jury that includes me.
Granted, he’s isn’t going to deal with a criminal trial. But you can rest assured he facing a civil action. As much as “Big Ben” is one of my favorite players to watch; he’s a guy who plays like a backyard quarterback well into his second six-pack, yet manages to win games. Like the backyard days, “Big Ben” has a tendency every once in a while to just chuck it up and see what happens. But living dangerously on the field is one thing, and quite another off it. But this time, even though Roethlisberger’s accuser is floating a story full of holes, the burden of proof in a civil case is different from “beyond all reasonable doubt.” Now its a matter of whose story you believe. For me, it isn’t Ben’s.
Nobody is denying that Roethlisberger’s bodyguards played a role in all of this. It was them who escorted Roethlisberger’s accuser to the “VIP” bar where nobody is denying alcohol entered the picture. Nobody is denying that Roethlisberger and his accuser had some sort of contact in the bathroom. Nobody can deny that Roethlisberger came off as completely unbelievable during his press conference.
But in all fairness, the accuser in this case has all kinds of holes in her story as well. One comes from the timeline of events, and points out that she really doesn’t act like somebody sticking to a criminal rape accusation, but rather an accuser headed for a cash settlement.
March 17th: Ocmulgee, GA Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said the accuser in the Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault investigation confirmed in a letter to authorities that she didn’t want to press criminal charges against Roethlisberger. On the same day, WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh was reporting the accuser may return to Georgia College & State University as early as the following week, according to the her lawyer. She took a leave of absence and went home to her parents in Atlanta after media descended on the tiny college town where she claims to have been assaulted. WTAE went on to state the 20-year-old woman made a surprise appearance over the weekend at a sorority retreat in the mountains of northern Georgia. Her sisters said she was acting very normal and just wanted to get away for the weekend and didn’t want to talk about the allegations.
March 24th: KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh reported that “sources close to the investigation say that investigators have had trouble re-interviewing the accuser since the night of the incident. Sources say the 20-year-old co-ed did not show up for a scheduled interview a week ago yesterday and that as of Friday she still had not come in to be questioned.” “A week ago yesterday” would’ve been March 16th, the day before the accuser sent a letter to authorities informing them that she did not want to press charges. That marked the death of the criminal case; without the accuser disputing the “consensual” claim of Roethlisberger herself, District Attorney Bright literally had no case.
But the accuser’s decision to rescind her claim against the quarterback may have come well before March 17th. WTAE also reported that she’d re-joined her sorority’s activities on the weekend of March 13th-14th; only a week since the incident at the night club. She also had subsequent plans to return to school. Rape is a crime that takes a particularly harsh psychological toll on victims; they don’t usually just pop back into normal life after a few days off.
I also found it curious that once a police report full of salacious details was a matter of public record, the accuser in this case hired a lawyer specializing in personal injury claims and informed the District Attorney of her wish not to proceed with a criminal case. The police report is important, as it is a crime to file a false report. Any lawyer worth his briefcase can take that document into a civil court and argue that since no charge was leveled against the accuser for filing a false police report, the “facts” contained in the report must be true. This is what makes me suspect the accuser has always been after a cash settlement.
Another thing that tripped my trigger was how many times I noticed the same phrases appearing in the statements of the accuser and her sorority sisters. Any good cop will tell you nothing makes a story sound rehearsed quite like it being told with the same words. “We continued to have casual conversation,” “we walked up to the first cop car we saw,” “…continued to say she didn’t want to have sex, but he kept saying, “No, it’s OK” all appear multiple times in those statements. as if everybody got their stories straight before contacting law enforcement.
Now, for the million dollar question: What are a bunch of 19 and 20-year old girls doing in a nightclub consuming alcohol? Think they might be up to no good? “Setup” was another one of those terms I kept reading in the witness statement. Well, these girls certainly appear to have been fishing for trouble themselves.
“Another sorority sister, Victoria Garofalo, recalled that the alleged victim was wearing a name tag with the initials “DTF.” The tag–which the woman had received at a birthday party earlier that evening–was the subject of an inside joke between the students. When Roethlisberger asked about the initials, “Garofalo explained that ‘DTF’ stood for ‘down to fuck’ and that it referred to a joke between” the women.”
“I’m not down to fuck, but I like to fuck girls,” Roethlisberger replied, according to a police report.”
That’s a lot of bait, which leads me to believe these girls netted the big, dumb fish they were after. Where a star hangs out is not a secret in a small town, and these girls kept managing to be in the right place at the right time to snag this idiot. Don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not in any way condoning what Roethlisberger allegedly did, but by being stupid he finds himself in a position where getting off the hook he swallowed is likely going to require Big Ben writing a big check.