DA Declines to Press Sex Assault Charges Against Roethlisberger

Woman's lawyer asks for no prosecution, but doesn't recant complaint.

ByCleopatra andreadis
April 12, 2010, 1:52 PM

April 12, 2010— -- A Georgia district attorney decided today not to file sex assault charges against Pittsburgh Steeler's quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger, dubbed "Big Ben" by Steelers fans, had been accused a sexual assault last month by a 20-year-old Georgia College & State University student who claimed the assault took place in a Milledgeville nightclub.

Roethlisberger had said there was consensual sexual contact, but no intercourse.

The decision not to prosecute was made by District Attorney Fred Bright.

"There will be no arrest made or criminal prosecution of Mr. Roethlisberger," Bright said.

The district attorney said one element of his decision not to prosecute came when he met with the student, who he repeatedly called "the victim," and her family and they made it clear they did not want to prosecute Roethlisberger.

The student's lawyer, David Walbert, wrote to Bright to say that his client did not want to prosecute because "a criminal trial would be a very intrusive personal experience."

"This decision does not reflect any recanting of our client's complaint, but simply a realistic, personal decision as to what is in her best interests," Walbert wrote.

Click here to read the lawyer's letter asking for an end to the Roethlisberger investigation.

Bright also said he would be unable to prove that there was a rape, meaning there was penetration, that it was forcible and that it was against her will.

"We are not condoning Mr. Roethlisberger's actions that night," Bright said. He added, however, "We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes."

What the DA was clear on was his disapproval of Roethlisberger's actions. "If he were my son, I would say Ben grow up," Bright said.

During a news conference, Bright spelled out a confusing mix of stories that emerged immediately after the complaint was filed, and said alcohol played a significant role in the night's events.

He said a Roethlisberger bodyguard led the girl to a dingy bathroom at Milledgeville nightclub and Roethlisberger soon followed.

Student Claims She Told Roethlisberger, 'It's Not Okay'

When she was first asked by a police officer if she had been raped, she answered, "No," Bright said, citing police reports. When asked if she and Roethlisberger had sex, she said, "I'm not sure," the district attorney said.

Bright said that when the student was interviewed later, when she was sober, she described a different scene.

"I told him it wasn't okay. We don't need to do this," Bright said she claimed she told Roethlisberger. The DA said she claimed to have tried to leave by exiting a door that actually led into a bathroom. The Steeler star allegedly followed her into the room.

"I still said no. This is not okay with me. He said it's okay. He had sex with me," Bright quoted the woman saying.

The police interview with Roethelisberger quoted him telling police that he tried to send the student away, saying, "I told her she was too drunk to be back here," Bright said.

The police officer who wrote the report concluded, "It is unclear as to what happened due to the …recollection due to her intoxication level."

Immediately after the woman made the allegation, Special Agent Tom Davis of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said, authorities began reviewing videos from Milledgeville nightclubs that Roethlisberger, 28, visited.

Roethlisberger's lawyer, Ed Garland, has disputed the Georgia assault claim and hired his own team to investigate.

Roethlisberger told police last month that he did not have sexual intercourse with the woman who has accused him of a March 5 assault, according to anonymous sources cited by KDKA-TV.

The sources reportedly told the station that Roethlisberger spoke with Milledgeville police on the night of the alleged assault and admitted sexual contact with the woman but said that it was not consummated. The sources said Roethlisberger told police that the woman slipped and fell afterward, injuring her head, according to KDKA.

Diane Kelly, spokeswoman for the Milledgeville Police Department, declined to comment on the case and whether police have interviewed Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

'Big Ben' Had Been Previously Accused

It was the second time in a year the two-time Super Bowl champion had been accused of sexual misconduct. Roethlisberger also faces a lawsuit filed in July by a woman who alleged that he raped her in 2008 at a Lake Tahoe hotel and casino, which he has denied. He has not been criminally charged and has claimed counter-damages in the lawsuit.

Roethlisberger, nicknamed "Big Ben" by football fans, led his team to Super Bowl victories in 2006 and 2009.

ABC News' Stephanie Wash contributed to this report.

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