Roethlisberger won't be charged in Georgia case
UPDATED (7:24 p.m.)...
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not be charged with a crime for his role in an alleged incident last month in Milledgeville, Ga., the district attorney involved in the case announced Monday.
A 20-year-old college student had accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her at a Milledgeville nightclub.
"The central allegation against Mr. Roethlisberger cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," the district attorney for the Ocmulgee judicial court, Frederic D. Bright, said at a news conference.
Bright said that "who Mr. Roethlisberger is made no difference." He said that he met with the alleged victim 10 days earlier and she said that she did not want the case to be prosecuted. According to Bright, that sentiment by the woman first was expressed in a letter from her lawyer to Bright dated March 17. That was 12 days after the alleged incident.
"We are not condoning Mr. Roethlisberger's actions that night," Bright said. "But we do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes."
Bright said that "something may have happened, but that's not a conviction.... I know when I have a case and I know when I don't, and I do not have enough evidence to convince 12 jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Roethlisberger would be guilty of the crime of rape."
Bright said the alleged incident occurred in a small bathroom at the nightclub and "significant questions about what occurred persist." The woman was intoxicated at the time of the alleged incident, Bright said. A doctor who examined the woman later that night was unable to determine if she'd been sexually assaulted, according to Bright.
Roethlisberger made a public statement Monday evening but did not answer questions from reporters.
"I'd like to begin by expressing gratitude for the thorough investigation process in Georgia and the prosecutor's decision not to bring charges," Roethlisberger said Monday evening at the Steelers' training facility. "I know without a doubt it was the right conclusion. I don't intend to discuss any details related to the events in Georgia and I'm happy to put this behind me and move forward. I am truly sorry for the disappointment and negative attention I have brought to my family, my teammates, coaches, the Rooneys [the owners of the Steelers] and the NFL.
"I understand that the opportunities I have been blessed with are a privilege and that much is expected of me as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I absolutely want to be the leader this team deserves, valued in the community and a role model to kids. I have much work to do to earn this trust and I am committed to improving and showing everyone my true values. I am excited to get back to work with my teammates and I'm more determined than ever to have a great season. I intend to make my family, friends and the Steeler nation proud on all fronts. Thank you and God bless."
Edward Garland, Roethlisberger's attorney, previously had said that Roethlisberger was innocent of any crime.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will meet with Roethlisberger in the "near future," a league spokesman said earlier Monday.
Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of public relations, said he could not provide further specifics about when the meeting will occur. Aiello said no decision about potential league discipline against Roethlisberger will be made until the facts are reviewed by the NFL.
Roethlisberger's meeting with Goodell apparently could come as soon as Tuesday in New York.
Goodell said at last month's annual league meeting that he would meet with Roethlisberger at the appropriate time.
The NFL's personal conduct policy empowers Goodell to impose discipline on a player, if Goodell deems it appropriate, even if the player is not convicted of a crime.
Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a written statement issued Monday by the Steelers: "The investigation process in Georgia has been deliberate and the District Attorney's decision regarding Ben Roethlisberger speaks for itself.
"During the past few weeks I have met with Ben on a number of occasions, not only to discuss this incident, but also to discuss his commitment to making sure something like this never happens again. The Pittsburgh Steelers take the conduct of players and staff very seriously. Ben will now have to work hard to earn back the respect and trust of Steelers fans, and to live up to the leadership responsibilities we all expect of him.
"In the coming days Ben will meet with Commissioner Goodell to discuss his resolve to abide by the league's personal conduct standards. After consultation with the Commissioner, our organization will determine the next steps in this process."
Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Steelers, also was accused in a civil lawsuit by a woman in Nevada of sexually assaulting her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 2008. Roethlisberger has not been charged with a crime in that case and has denied that allegation.
Goodell said last month at the league meeting in Orlando that he had discussed the matter with Rooney.
"We take the issue very seriously," Goodell said then. "We are concerned that Ben continues to put himself in this position.... At the appropriate time, I'll be meeting with Ben."
The league's personal conduct policy says that "all persons associated with the NFL are required to avoid 'conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League.'
"... While criminal activity is clearly outside the scope of permissible conduct, and persons who engage in criminal activity will be subject to discipline, the standard of conduct for persons employed in the NFL is considerably higher. It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful.
"Persons who fail to live up to this standard of conduct are guilty of conduct detrimentaland subject to discipline, even where the conduct itself does not result in conviction of a crime."
The policy says that "the Commissioner will have full authority to impose discipline as warranted."
It also says: "Discipline may take the form of fines, suspension, or banishment from the League and may include a probationary period and conditions that must be satisfied prior to or following reinstatement. The specifics of the disciplinary response will be based on the nature of the incident, the actual or threatened risk to the participant and others, any prior or additional misconduct (whether or not criminal charges were filed), and other relevant factors.
"Unless the case involves significant bodily harm, a first offense will generally not result in discipline until there has been a disposition of the proceeding (or until the investigation is complete in the case of employee or workplace misconduct).
"With respect to repeat offenders, the Commissioner may impose discipline on an expedited basis. In such cases, the timing and nature of the discipline will be determined by the Commissioner based on several factors including but not limited to: the severity of the initial charge and later charge; the facts underlying the later charge; the length of time between the initial offense and later charge; and the player or employee's compliance with counseling and other programs. Following a full investigation and/or resolution of the proceedings, the Commissioner will review the matter and make any appropriate adjustments."
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