Georgia district attorney Fred Bright announced minutes ago that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won't be charged with a crime after being investigated for an alleged sexual assault against a 20-year-old Georgia woman.
"They have completed their investigation, which we have reviewed," Bright said during a televised news conference. "The sexual allegation against Mr. Roethlisberger can't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, there will be no arrest made or charges brought against Mr. Roethlisberger. Circumstances did not lead to a viable prosecution."
Bright said that both Roethlisberger and the woman were drinking, and that the woman who accused Roethlisberger was heavily intoxicated. He said that Roethlisberger and the woman had a conversation that was of a sexual nature.
Bright said that it's unclear what happened in the bathroom between Roethlisberger and the woman.
"Significant questions still persist," he said.
The woman had a laceration and slight bleeding in the vaginal area, the district attorney said.
A doctor at the emergency room said he couldn't determine if there was a rape or sexual assault.
The doctor found no evidence of semen after a rape kit test was performed.
The crime lab advised that extracting DNA from Roethlisberger was futile due to the fact that no profile was available due to a minute sample.
"The crime that was being investigated was rape," Bright said. "The elements of rape are having carnal knowledge, sexual intercourse, which requires penetration of a female forcibily and against her will. A woman has a right to be safe from attack, but every case must be viewed in the context of the circumstances. The overall findings don't lead to a viable finding of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
"We are not condoning Mr. Roethlisberger's actions that night. We do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes. The victim and the family all unanimously reconfimed they don't want to pursue this matter any further. Before making any decision, we made a point to have the clearest most accurate record of what occurred."
Bright said that it didn't matter that Roethlisberger is a star athlete, saying he was treated like any other citizen.
"You should have no question that who Mr. Roethlisberger is made no difference," Bright said. "If he was Joe Q. Citizen that was poor and had a local public defender or no lawyer at all, the result would be the same. We have been intent on assuring that he, like every other defendant in our courts, and she, like every victim we serve, receives the benefit of a complete investigation and a fair evaluation.
"When I was sworn in as a prosecutor 28 years ago, my father, who was also a lawyer, gave me some sound advice. He told me to prosecute wrongdoing when I can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And when I can't just admit it and not prosecute the case. I have always taken that advice and my oath seriously. So, after a thorough review, Mr. Roethlisberger's case will not be prosecuted."
Taking questions after his initial announcement, Bright reiterated when asked if he believes something happened between Roethlisberger and the woman, "I can't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, a crime. If I did, I would do so. I'm admitting to you that I can't. Something may have happened, but that's not a conviction."
Bright added that a letter from the woman asking that he not go forward with the case made his decision easier.
"We don't have enough evidence to prosecute," Bright said. "I know when I have a case and I know when I don't. I do not have enough evidence to convince 12 jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Roethlisberger would be guilty of a crime of rape.
"We don't even have probable cause in this case, which is the standard to make an arrest. We didn't have probable cause. There's no warrant to dismiss."
Bright said the incident happened in a small, dingy bathroom, adding there's no camera in the bathroom or DNA area.
"There's no camera that would have shed any light," Bright said. "There are surveillance cameras showing Mr. Roethlisberger and his entourage and the victim and her sorority sisters. There's nothing where the tapes would shed any light on it. There are no cameras in the VIP area."
Bright said all three elements of rape would have been extremely difficult to prove.
The sample was simply too small and the crime lab said that Roethlisberger's DNA wouldn't have been able to profile against the sample.
He said there was no need to obtain Roethlisberger's DNA through a search warrant.
As for Roethlisberger not submitting to a second interview beyond his initial brief statement, Bright said: "That's his choice. He, like every other citizen, has the fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The point-blank answer is that's his right."
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