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Multiple news sources report that Andrea McNulty, an employee of Harrah’s Casino, filed a lawsuit last week in Nevada accusing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her in July 2008.
Roethlisberger is not under criminal investigation, and it is not yet clear if Ms. McNulty filed a criminal complaint.
Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett issued the following statement to a local Pittsburgh television news station:
“We are aware of the allegations but cannot comment on the specifics of the case. We’ve been told Ben’s side of the story and we fully support him at this time.”
Attorney David Cornwell, a former NFL Assistant General Counsel who has represented many high-profile NFL players, confirmed that the lawsuit was filed and stated that, “Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone; especially Andrea McNulty.”
This is all very curious.
A superstar athlete accused of raping a hotel employee? Seems we’ve heard this one before, and we have, in the summer of 2003 when Kobe Bryant was accused of this very thing.
A felony criminal complaint was filed against Bryant on July 18, 2003, followed by a civil lawsuit on August 10, 2004.
This would seem to be the typical timeline—the victim first views the event as a crime, reports it to the police, and then later, after consulting with an attorney, files a lawsuit.
Assuming Ms. McNulty did not file a criminal complaint, it would be very easy to question her veracity, and her motives. A word of caution. Sexual assault cases are notoriously difficult to prove, given the state’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and the fact that there are often no witnesses, other than the victim. The reduced burden of proof in a civil case—preponderance of the evidence—makes it an attractive alternative. For example, we all remember that O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder in his criminal trial, but deemed responsible in the ensuing civil suit.
So, I think it would be prudent for us to hold many of our opinions to ourselves, at least until more facts come out.