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Published: Tuesday, 3/9/2010

Police seek Roethlisberger DNA

BY DAN MAJORS
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Police investigators yesterday said they are arranging to interview Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about sexual assault allegations lodged against him by a young woman, and that they will seek a DNA sample.

During a brief news conference outside the police station, Milledgeville police Chief Woodrow W. Blue, Jr., said Mr. Roethlisberger and his lawyer have been cooperating with the investigation and that Mr. Roethlisberger and seven other witnesses will be interviewed in the next two to three days.

Mr. Roethlisberger was raised in Findlay and attended Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

After the news conference, one of Mr. Roethlisberger’s attorneys, Edward T.M. Garland of Atlanta, released a statement saying, “The facts show that there was no criminal activity. No sexual assault occurred.”

A 20-year-old student at Georgia College & State University told police early Friday morning that Mr. Roethlisberger, 28, had sexually assaulted her at a nightclub near the college campus. Police at the scene interviewed Mr. Roethlisberger and members of his party and permitted them to leave.

The woman was taken to Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville, where she was treated and released.

Police Monday would not provide details of what the woman told them, but Tom Davis, special agent for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in Milledgeville, confirmed that she has hired an attorney.

Agent Davis said authorities are reviewing videos taken from various Milledge ville nightclubs that Mr. Roethlisberger and his party visited late Thursday and early Friday, but would not say what, if anything, they revealed.

After Monday’snews conference, Carl Cansino, a criminal defense lawyer in Milledgeville, said it could be days before investigators decide whether they have evidence to support filing charges in the case.

“The fact that some sort of DNA is going to be collected is telling, because the only reason to take a DNA sample is to compare it to something else,” Mr. Cansino said yesterday. “But the district attorney, I’m certain, will make absolutely sure that before he files any charges that he believes that he can prove those charges.” Mr. Cansino said there are two ways a person can be arrested.

“First, if the police department, through its investigation, believes a crime has been committed and seeks an arrest warrant from a magistrate or judge,” he said. “The second way would be if the district attorney decides charges are appropriate and takes the matter before the grand jury for an indictment. … Most felonies, including sexual assault, have to go before the grand jury. But it’s a one-sided procedure and all the district attorney has to prove is ‘probable cause,’ which is a very low burden to prove.”

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dan Majors is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.



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