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Ben Roethlisberger Avoids Charges, Suspension Likely

Ben Roethlisberger (Image from seattletimes.nwsource.com)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was declared innocent Monday afternoon, after he faced charges accusing him of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female college student. He may not be totally off the hook, however. According to sources within the Steelers organization, the team will likely suspend Roethlisberger for 1 or 2 games this season. ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen believes the quarterback will be suspended by the league instead, after he met with Roger Goodell and NFL officials on Tuesday.

From NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora:

Having taken the temperature of members of the Steelers’ organization, I am more convinced than ever that Ben Roethlisberger will miss at least a game or two of the 2010 NFL season for his actions this offseason.

Roethlisberger was joined by his agents and lawyer in New York on Tuesday afternoon to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at league headquarters. Roethlisberger has wounded his reputation in the Pittsburgh community and nationwide, and the events of Monday likely eliminated any doubt about a possible suspension from the league or the team.

La Canfora is referring to Monday’s press conference when Ocmulgee County District Attorney Fred Bright explained the process that left Roethlisberger free of any charges. Interestingly, Bright was able to break down the events of the night club in great detail, but it was the inability to actually document what occurred in the Georgia night club’s bathroom that prevented authorities from charging Roethlisberger with any crimes. As a result of the ruling, Bright understood that there might be some speculations whether Roethlisberger’s fame had anything to do with the outcome. and stressed many times the significance of the lack of evidence.

“Based on the evidence here,” Bright stated, “we do not have enough evidence to prosecute. I know when I have a case and I know when I don’t. I don’t have enough evidence to be able to convince twelve jurors beyond resonable doubt that Mr. Roethlisberger would be guilty of committing rape.”

Analysis

The events of the night preceding Roethlisberger entering the bathroom with the accuser were clearly documented. DA Bright discussed the nighs’ events, saying that Roethlisberger was out with friends the celebrate his 28th birthday and had “barhopped” to many bars. In doing so, he had met the accuser at more than one. As the night wore on, Bright said, there was a clear vibe between the two. Later in the night, the student was witnessed walking into the club bathroom and after that nothing is certain. It is known that Roethlisberger himself entered the bathroom as well, but because the events inside the bathroom are unclear, no chargers could be made. Bright addressed the ethical conduct of the night by saying, “We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes.” Bright seemed to acknowledge that he did not approve of the actions, but wether or not the events of the night were morally correct was not up to him to decide. The inconclusive evidence was the deciding factor to render Roethlisberger innocent.

Roethlisberger later held his own interview saying he did not intend to speak about the incident or the ruling,  but looked forward to putting the past month in the past and concentrating on football…well maybe not a full season of football. Stay tuned.

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