This story was originally published on June 10, 2010.
Ben Roethlisberger. He’s a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers! He’s the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback in NFL history! He’s one of the NFL’s highest-paid players, with a $102 million dollar five-year contract! He’s a rapist! And he’s not just an All-Star on the field, folks, he’s also our second Douchebag Decree All-Star! (Applause.)
I know we are all shocked that a professional athlete’s sense of entitlement might lead him to have three accounts of sexual assault on record and still be an active (although temporarily suspended) player with a grotesque amount of money on his bloated hands. Let’s review the charges, in baseball terminology. (Trigger warning: plain-language accounts of rape.) Strike one: In the most recent case, which took place in March, Roethlisberger was accused of raping a 20-year-old Georgia college student in a club bathroom. The accuser’s name is being withheld, and although it’s not a Jane Doe case, I’ll refer to her as Doe just for the sake of clarity. Long story short, Roethlisberger and his bodyguards (two off-duty Pennsylvania policemen) visited a couple of bars in Milledgeville, Georgia, where Roethlisberger posed for pictures with fans (including Doe), bought them all drinks and proclaimed: “All my bitches, take some shots.” His bodyguards escorted Doe to a side door near the back of the building and blocked her friends from getting to her. The bodyguards and club owner ignored Doe’s friends’ repeated requests to get their friend back while a “visibly intoxicated” Roethlisberger exposed himself to Doe in the hallway and then raped her in the “Employees Only” bathroom. For a full account, you can read Doe’s police report and the corroborating witness reports of her friends at The Smoking Gun. (Trigger warning: obvious.)
In April, the Milledgeville district attorney announced that Roethlisberger would not be charged because there wasn’t enough “probable cause” and because the victim’s attorney had written to him asking not to follow through with the rape probe due to the highly public nature of the trial and the “intrusive personal experience” it was becoming (full text of that letter here, emphasis in quote mine):
“After a great deal of deliberation, our client has instructed us to advise you that she does not want to prosecute this matter further. …What is obvious in looking forward is that a criminal trial would be a very intrusive personal experience for a complainant in the situation, given the extraordinary media attention that would be inevitable. The media coverage to date and the efforts of the media to access our client have been unnerving to say the least. …As should be clear from what I have said here, this decision does not reflect any recanting of our client’s complaint, but simply a realistic, personal decision as to what is in her best interests, and what it would be like to go through a trial with the expected media attention.
Despite the dropped charges, Roethlisberger has suffered at least some backlash from the incident: Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he was “highly concerned for [the Steelers’] franchise and for Ben” (not for the rape victim, of course - she’ll be fine). PLB Sports, maker of Big Ben’s Beef Jerky (for real), decided not only to stop production of the jerky, but also to “destroy” all the jerky in PLB backstock, now that it has been tainted with Roethlisberger’s rapey stink. Roethlisberger was also suspended without pay for six games and underwent a “professional behavior evaluation,” counseling and treatment. None of this punishment would be taking place if Doe hadn’t had the courage to file a police report (which she did even though police officers told her it was a waste of time - more on that below!). Strike two:Roethlisberger’s record of sexual assault douchebagger includes exposing himself to and puting his hand up the skirt of a young Georgia golf course employee; the victim in this case also chose not to press charges or even file a report for fear of unwanted media attention. Strike three: Last but not least, Roethlisberger was also accused of sexual assault last year by Andrea McNulty, a Lake Tahoe casino host who accused Roethlisberger of raping her at the casino’s hotel during a celebrity golf tournament in 2008. This case is a lot less clear-cut, in part because of McNulty’s questionable legal practices (she skipped filing a police report and instead went straight to a civil lawsuit) and also because of a sworn affidavit from one of her co-workers that conflicted with McNulty’s account of the event and confirmed Roethlisberger’s denial of the charge.
Douchebag honorable mentions must be bestowed onto Roethlisberger’s bodyguards, without whom this rape could not have taken place, and Milledgeville police officer Sergeant Jerry Blash, who, after hearing Doe’s accusation on the night of the assault, made a dismissive comment along the lines of “this f-cking bitch is drunk.” After delivering this eloquent expression of sympathy, he then proceeded to tell Doe and her friends that following through with a police report would be “wasting their time” because “Roethlisberger has a lot of money.” According to TMZ, Blash was soon given the option to resign or be fired. He chose the former. The upside to all this is that if Blash ever gets nostalgic about his eight years on the force, he can take out his scrapbook and gaze upon the photos he took that night with Roethlisberger (above), and remember that he lost his job because he defended a rapist while insulting and attempting to silence a rape victim. Parting is bittersweet, Blash, but we’ll always have Milledgeville.