Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback, Twice Accused of Sexual Assault
via USA Today Sports
Height / Weight: 6'5" / 240 lbs
College: Miami University
NFL draft: 2004 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Career history: Pittsburgh Steelers (2004–present)
Ben Roethlisberger has been publicly accused of sexual assault twice—once in 2009 and once in 2010.
In July 2009, Andrea McNulty filed a civil suit against Roethlisberger and eight employees of the Harrah's hotel in Lake Tahoe, NV. The suit alleged that Roethlisberger had raped McNulty in his room at the hotel in July 2008; the suit also alleged that the eight employees had aided in covering up the assault. At the time of the alleged assault, McNulty was an employee of Harrah's, where Roethlisberger was staying, and according to her complaint, Roethlisberger asked her to come to his room to fix his television. After she entered his room, she alleged, he grabbed her, held her against her will, pushed her on the bed, and raped her. According to her complaint, McNulty "communicated her objection and lack of consent" and "begged 'Please don't.'" After the attack, according to the complaint, McNulty struggled with depression and entered a mental health institution.
Both Roethlisberger and Harrah's denied the allegations. In August 2009, a former coworker of McNulty's claimed in an affidavit that McNulty had bragged about sleeping with Roethlisberger after their encounter. In September 2009, McNulty's lawyer offered to drop the suit if Roethlisberger would admit that he had assaulted McNulty, donate $100,000 to a Reno charity for abused women, and write a letter of apology; Roethlisberger's lawyer called the offer "bizarre" and rejected it. The case was settled out of court in January 2012. After the civil complaint was filed, the NFL took no action.
In March 2010, an anonymous college student alleged that Roethlisberger raped her in a bathroom stall in the back of a nightclub in Milledgeville, GA. According to her police statement, she met Roethlisberger at a bar; after Roethlisberger bought shots for the alleged victim and her friends, his bodyguard led her into a back room, which Roethlisberger entered "with his penis out of his pants." She writes in the police report that she told him to stop and attempted to leave through the first door she saw, which was a bathroom. She says that Roethlisberger followed her in, shut the door behind him, raped her, and left. Three of her friends gave statements to the Milledgeville Police Department that supported the accuser's story.
In a letter asking the district attorney not to prosecute, the alleged victim's lawyer emphasized that the she was not recanting her accusation but rather was afraid that the trial would be "a very intrusive personal experience" due to the "extraordinary media attention" it would receive.
On April 12, 2010, the Baldwin County district attorney held a press conference to announce that he would not pursue criminal charges against Roethlisberger, saying, "[H]ad [the accuser] not written and taken that position, the victim, her family, and her lawyers, that they did not want us to prosecute the matter at all—and they made it crystal clear in the letter—an honest answer is I would still be announcing the same result. We, based on the evidence here, don't have enough evidence to prosecute."
A week later, Roethlisberger was suspended for six games for violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy. The suspension was later reduced to four games. The Pittsburgh Steelers went to the Super Bowl that season, in 2011. (They lost to the Green Bay Packers.)
Following the second rape accusation, Roethlisberger lost his endorsement deal with PLB Sports, the company that makes Big Ben's Beef Jerky, for violating the morals clause in his contract. He retained his deal with Nike. In May 2015, Roethlisberger signed a record-breaking four-year contract worth $87.4 million with the Steelers. In June 2015, Forbes named him the 11th-highest-paid athlete in the world.
Roethlisberger did not return Broadly's request for comment.