Roethlisberger accused of sexual assault

March 9th, 2010 by — A 20-year-old college student accused Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her at a nightclub early Friday during a night on the town near where he owns a lake home.

Police say the alleged incident occurred early Friday at the Capital City nightclub in Milledgeville, about 135 kilometres southeast of Atlanta. The National Football League player owns a home nearby.

The two-time Super Bowl champion and some of his friends were seen visiting some local restaurants and bars earlier Thursday night.

“He’s been identified as being at the scene and there are allegations naming him as the perpetrator,” Deputy chief Richard Malone said.

Malone said Roethlisberger had been with three other people who were mingling with another group that included the alleged victim. Malone said the woman and her party contacted a nearby police officer following the alleged assault.

Several areas of the nightclub were considered a crime scene, Malone said, but he would not elaborate.

Roethlisberger and the alleged victim have been interviewed and the woman was taken to hospital, where she was treated and released, Malone said.

Woman not identified

The woman was not identified by police and The Associated Press does not generally identify possible victims of sexual abuse.

Police said Roethlisberger and his attorney were co-operating with investigators. He was not in custody and has not been charged with a crime.

Separately, Roethlisberger has been sued by a woman who claims he raped her in 2008 at a Lake Tahoe hotel. The Steelers star denies those allegations and has asked for counter-damages.

“Last night, Ben and his friends met a group of women and everyone mingled together throughout the evening,” the player’s agent, Ryan Tollner, said in the statement.

“We have spoken to law enforcement. Based on information currently available, an allegation was made against Ben, which appeared to be dismissed after a preliminary investigation last night. Obviously, given the prior accusation against Ben, we are skeptical of motive, but we will continue to co-operate with everyone involved.”

Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett released a statement from the team. “We are gathering information and that is the only comment we have at this time,” it said.

Popular spot for collegians

Capital City nightclub is a popular spot for college students who attend Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville. It was crowded Friday night, with a country band playing, and there was a $20 cover charge to get in.

One patron, 21-year-old college student Brandon Harris, said he saw Roethlisberger come in the night before with two or three big men, who were keeping other club goers away from the player.

The group went into a curtained VIP area in the back of the club, and some women were let inside.

The owner of a restaurant near the nightclub said Roethlisberger and some of his friends came in earlier Thursday night.

“He was very polite with everybody,” said Frank Pendergrast, owner of The Brick. “He was down here from about 11:30 until about 1:30 having a good time, talking to a lot of people. Looked like he was signing autographs and letting people take pictures. Other than that, it was really uneventful.”

Roethlisberger, who turned 28 last week, has led the Steelers to two Super Bowl championships in his six seasons as starting quarterback, but there have been some problems off the field.

He suffered a concussion and required surgery for severe facial injuries in 2006 after an off-season motorcycle crash in which he was not wearing a helmet.

A Reno casino director in 2009 accused Roethlisberger of rape, filing a civil suit in connection with events following a celebrity golf tournament the previous year. She later filed a motion to dismiss her suit.

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