Ben Roethlisberger accuser says she told him 'no'
Associated Press Writer
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — The young woman who accused Ben Roethlisberger of sexual assault said she tried to get away from the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and told him "no, this is not OK," according to police documents released Thursday.
In one of at least two statements the 20-year-old college student gave to police, she said Roethlisberger told her, and her friends, to take numerous shots of alcohol. Then one of his bodyguards escorted her into a hallway at the Capital City nightclub, sat her on a stool and left. She said Roethlisberger walked down the hallway and exposed himself.
"I told him it wasn't ok, no, we don't need to do this and I proceeded to get up and try to leave," she said.
According to her statement, Roethlisberger then followed her into a nearby bathroom and shut the door.
"I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me," she wrote. "He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything."
Two of the woman's friends said they saw the bodyguard lead her into the hallway and then saw Roethlisberger follow. They said they couldn't see their friend but knew she was drunk and were worried about her.
A friend told police she approached one of Roethlisberger's two bodyguards and said, "This isn't right. My friend is back there with Ben. She needs to come back right now."
She said the bodyguard wouldn't look her in the eye and said he didn't know what she was talking about.
A few minutes later, the friends said they saw Roethlisberger leave the hallway. When the woman came back, the friends said they asked her what happened and urged her to alert police.
Earlier this week, prosecutors said no charges would be filed against Roethlisberger, who has denied the accusations through his attorney. Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said Monday the woman had asked him not to pursue the case and that the woman's accusations could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Steelers president Art Rooney II held his first news conference about the case Thursday and said the team is ready to discipline Roethlisberger. But he added that the punishment will be coordinated with the NFL and won't pre-empt any league action.
Rooney said that Roethlisberger told him he is prepared to accept disciplinary action.
Rooney said he expects NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to spend several weeks reviewing the sexual assault accusations and that the NFL and Steelers probably won't settle on any punishment until after next week's three-day draft.
"When we get to the point where we have agreed with the commissioner on what that action will be, that's when it will be imposed," Rooney said. "After imposing an appropriate level of discipline and outlining the steps we feel will be necessary to be successful as a player and a person, we intend to allow Ben the opportunity to prove to us he is the teammate and citizen we all believe he is capable of being."
Sparked partly by the Roethlisberger incident, Goodell sent a memo last week to NFL owners, executives and head coaches emphasizing the necessity of following the league's personal conduct policy. According to the memo, which was first reported by the New York Times, is not enough to excuse poor behavior.
"Unfortunately, in recent weeks there have been several negative incidents," the memo stated. "These incidents include subjects that we have previously identified as particularly troublesome, such as alcohol-related offenses, allegations of violence against women, and weapons offenses. ... The policy makes clear that NFL and club personnel must do more than simply avoid criminal behavior. We must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, that promotes the values upon which the league is based, and is lawful."
The Roethlisberger case has been unsettling to the Steelers, regardless of the lack of criminal charges, and Rooney did not hide his displeasure.
"I have made it clear to Ben that his conduct in this incident did not live up to our standards," Rooney said. "We have made it very clear to Ben that there will be consequence for his actions, and Ben has indicated to us he is willing to accept those consequences."
Rooney said the Steelers' image and Roethlisberger's have been equally damaged because of the incident.
"It's a situation that he's going to have to work hard to rehabilitate his image that, no question, has taken a hit," Rooney said. "It's a long journey back and he's going to have to be up to the challenge."
Roethlisberger began taking part in the team's off-field conditioning work on Tuesday, but only after several long conversations with an unhappy Rooney. The quarterback also is expected to participate in the start of offseason practice next week.
"We allowed Ben to do this after we were convinced that he was sincerely contrite for his past behavior, as well as having Ben's assurance that he is firmly committed to working hard every day to regain the trust and respect of this organization," Rooney said.
While Roethlisberger remains involved in a civil suit alleging he sexually assaulted a Nevada hotel employee, Rooney said the disciplinary action is the result of the Georgia case.
Also, Rooney said the Steelers decided to trade former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes because of "multiple violations of league policies, and additional off-the-field problems." Holmes was dealt to the Jets for a fifth-round draft pick only 15 months after he made the game-winning catch of a Roethlisberger pass in the closing seconds of the Super Bowl against Arizona.
AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.