April 16, 2010 in Sports

Roethlisberger details emerge

Accuser claims she tried to avoid sex
Associated Press

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 a statement to police on March 5, the 20-year-old college student said Roethlisberger encouraged 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. “I went to the first door I saw, which happened to be a bathroom.”

According to her statement, Roethlisberger then followed her into the 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.”

The woman’s statements were among hundreds of pages of the case file made public by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Two of her friends said they saw a bodyguard lead her into the hallway and then saw Roethlisberger follow.

Ann Marie Lubatti 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. The GBI later identified that bodyguard as Ed Joyner, and the GBI also determined that the man who led Roethlisberger’s accuser down the hallway was Anthony Barravecchio. Joyner is a Pennsylvania trooper and Barravecchio is an officer on the force in the Pittsburgh suburb of Coraopolis.

Attorney Michael Santicola, who represents Barravecchio but said Joyner also is a longtime friend, confirmed on March 10 that the two officers were present, but not in an official capacity. He said the two men are friends with Roethlisberger and did not witness any criminal activity or inappropriate behavior. He said the officers “have no memory” of meeting his accuser.

Lt. Myra A. Taylor, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania State Police, said Thursday night the agency is getting a copy of the investigative report from Georgia authorities. “We will thoroughly review the report and determine if there is a violation of Department regulations on the part of Trooper Edward Joyner,” she said.

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’s accusations could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that the woman had asked him not to pursue the case. Roethlisberger also is being sued in civil court by a former Nevada hotel employee for an alleged sexual assault in 2008. No criminal charges were filed in that case.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is reviewing the matter and Steelers president Art Rooney II said Thursday that the league and team probably won’t settle on any punishment until after next week’s draft.

Rooney said the team is prepared to discipline Roethlisberger now, but will wait for the league’s decision. Roethlisberger told him that he will accept the punishment, Rooney said.

Sparked partly by the Roethlisberger incident, Goodell sent a memo last week to NFL owners, executives and head coaches emphasizing the importance of the league’s personal conduct policy. According to the memo, which was first reported by the New York Times, the absence of criminal charges is not enough to excuse poor behavior.

The Roethlisberger case has infuriated the Steelers.

“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.”

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