Yes, I know Ben Roethlisberger won’t be prosecuted for the rape of a 20 year old college student whom he got drunk (with the help of two bodyguards who are both in Pennsylvania law enforcement), followed into a bathroom, and forced to have sex.
I know that proving cases like these is difficult; I’m sure the victim doesn’t want to go through the hell that would be a trial, faced with what would almost certainly be exceptionally gifted and cruel defense counsel; and I know that the victim is probably blaming herself (even though she shouldn’t) for some of what happened.
But let’s review.
In a statement to police on March 5, the 20-year-old college student said Roethlisberger encouraged her, and her friends, to take numerous shots of alcohol. Then one of his bodyguards escorted her into a hallway at the Capital City nightclub, sat her on a stool and left. She said Roethlisberger walked down the hallway and exposed himself.
“I told him it wasn’t OK, no, we don’t need to do this and I proceeded to get up and try to leave,” she said. “I went to the first door I saw, which happened to be a bathroom.”
According to her statement, Roethlisberger then followed her into a nearby bathroom and shut the door.
“I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me,” she wrote. “He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything.”
That’s bad enough. But wait – there’s more:
Two of the woman’s friends said they saw the bodyguard lead her into the hallway and then saw Roethlisberger follow. They said they couldn’t see their friend but knew she was drunk and were worried about her.
Ann Marie Lubatti told police she approached one of Roethlisberger’s two bodyguards and said, “This isn’t right. My friend is back there with Ben. She needs to come back right now.”
She said the bodyguard wouldn’t look her in the eye and said he didn’t know what she was talking about. The GBI later identified that bodyguard as Ed Joyner, and the GBI also determined that the man who led Roethlisberger’s accuser down the hallway was Anthony Barravecchio. Joyner is a Pennsylvania trooper and Barravecchio is an officer on the force in the Pittsburgh suburb of Coraopolis.
Attorney Michael Santicola, who represents Barravecchio but said Joyner also is a longtime friend, confirmed on March 10 that the two officers were present, but not in an official capacity. He said the two men are friends with Roethlisberger and did not witness any criminal activity or inappropriate behavior. He said the officers “have no memory” of meeting Roethlisberger’s accuser.
Well, sure – it must be so exciting, guarding Big Ben as he overpowers drunk women less than half his size. I imagine the adrenaline blocks one’s memory pretty effectively.
Or is it the money he pays you?
So to recap, a professional athlete plies an underage woman with alcohol, has his bodyguard plop her on a stool out of the way, exposes himself as approaches her and follows her into a bathroom, and, after she says she doesn’t want to have sex with him, does so anyway.
And they say romance is dead.
Meanwhile, the girl’s friends, trying desperately to get to her because they know she’s in trouble, are prevented from doing so by two “gentleman” who, during their day jobs, are supposed to enforce the law.
And, to heap some extra pride on the law enforcement community, the cop who took Roethlisberger’s statement has resigned. Sergeant Jerry Bash made “derogatory statements” about the victim which some in Roethlisberger’s party “may have overheard.” (Allegedly, he referred to the victim as an “f-ing bitch.” But, then again, Big Ben had taken a picture with him earlier, so…bygones!)
Now, Roethlisberger may face some punishment from the NFL, and almost certainly from the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Sadly, the sponsorship he lost as a result of this incident – Big Ben’s Beef Jerky – seems all too appropriate for him, and in an ideal world, “Jerky” would be tattooed to his forehead.) But I look at this and see the consequences he faces as pathetically inconsequential given the nature of his actions:
Possible options include suspension, fine or having the $102 million quarterback undergo counseling or rehabilitation. Citing sources, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Steelers are considering their own suspension for Roethlisberger.
The suspensions people are talking about are in the 2-4 game category.
I think Big Ben should take the 2010 NFL season off. Without pay. Or, as Peter King suggested, with his pay donated to various women’s shelters.
If you think that’s harsh, too bad. No one has a right to play in the NFL.
Three final notes. First, to Ben’s victim, don’t blame yourself. Do what you need to do to move on: sue (or don’t), get counseling, and get clear on what happened, which is that an arrogant prick raped you.
To the two “law enforcement” officers who acted as Roethlisberger’s enablers, I certainly hope you are fired. Not just from being Ben Roethlisberger’s toadies, but from being cops in Pennsylvania. I could make a case for you guys doing time, but cheer up – that probably won’t happen. Even though it should.
And finally, to Big Ben himself? You are a wimp and a coward, and should you try this again, it is my fervent hope that it is with a woman with the training to leave you bleeding, unconscious and in severe physical pain.
If she ends your football career in the process, so much the better.