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Published: Saturday, 3/6/2010

Roethlisberger accused of sex assault at Ga. club

BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE
Roethlisberger Roethlisberger
GENE J. PUSKAR / AP Enlarge

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexually assaulting a Georgia college student at a dance club, marking the second such allegation in eight months against the star player.

This time there is one key difference: The alleged victim went to the police.

Mr. Roethlisberger, who turned 28 on Tuesday, was raised in Findlay and attended Miami University of Ohio.

He already has stood accused of raping a Nevada resort hostess in his hotel room during a July, 2008, golf tournament at Lake Tahoe.

But the woman never went to the authorities. Instead she sued Mr. Roethlisberger in July in the absence of any police report or physical evidence.

In the latest incident, a 20-year-old woman attending Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, near Mr. Roethlisberger's off-season home, is the alleged victim, according to Milledgeville police Deputy Chief Richard Malone.

"We had a sexual assault report," Chief Malone said during a news conference last night. "It is alleged that he was the perpetrator."

No charges have been filed, and the deputy chief made it clear that Mr. Roethlisberger was not being held and had not been arrested.

Mr. Roethlisberger and his legal team have emphatically denied the accusations in the Nevada case but have not reacted as strongly in the latest incident.

Late yesterday afternoon, the quarterback's agent, Ryan Tollner, issued a statement:

"Last night, Ben and his friends met a group of women and everyone mingled together throughout the evening. 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," the agent said.

Contrary to Mr. Tollner's depiction of a dismissal of the allegation, Chief Malone indicated that the case is very much active, with additional potential evidence being collected and more than a dozen investigators involved throughout the course of the day.

Milledgeville is being assisted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Tom Davis, the special agent in charge of the Milledgeville field office, said investigators were in contact at least three times yesterday with lawyers for Mr. Roethlisberger.

The incident was reported between 2 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. yesterday to a Milledgeville police officer working in the college town's downtown area.

It allegedly occurred inside Capital City, in a bustling business strip populated by students, between 11 p.m. Thursday and

2:30 a.m. yesterday, according to a police incident report.

The chief would not say what allegedly occurred or exactly where.

Responding to reports that an incident might have occurred in a women's restroom, Deputy Chief Malone confirmed that there is a bathroom near the area where Mr. Roethlisberger, the woman, and other people were socializing inside the club.

Members of the woman's party identified Mr. Roethlisberger as her alleged assailant. The deputy chief did not say if the woman herself identified Mr. Roethlisberger as the person who allegedly assaulted her.

"She approached the officer. The officer spoke with all members of her party, and then she was given the opportunity to go to the hospital, and that was our main concern at that point," Chief Malone said.

The woman was treated at the Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Jonathan D. Silver, who wrote this story, is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.



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