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Roethlisberger not charged

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

MILLEDGEVILLE -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not face charges after a college student accused him of sexually assaulting her at a nightclub last month, authorities said Monday.

Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright said the 20-year-old student's accusations could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and her lawyer said in a letter that she did not want to press charges.

''Therefore there will be no arrests made nor criminal prosecution against Mr. Roethlisberger,'' Bright said.

The woman told an officer Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her early March 5 at the Capital City night club, where he was drinking with friends shortly after his 28th birthday.

Bright said the investigation showed the woman was heavily intoxicated that night. She and her sorority sisters had met Roethlisberger at a different bar earlier in the night, and he invited them into a VIP area at the Capital City club and ordered them shots. When the woman walked down a hallway to a small bathroom, Roethlisberger followed her.

What happened in that bathroom is unclear, Bright said. A doctor who examined the woman could not say if she was raped, and while some DNA was found, there was not enough to determine whom it belonged to.

''We are not condoning Mr. Roethlisberger's actions that night,'' Bright said. ''But we do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes.''

He said local and state investigators spent weeks questioning witnesses even though the woman sent a letter urging prosecutors not to move forward with charges.

''I know when I have a case and I know when I don't,'' Bright said. ''And I do not have enough evidence to convince 12 jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Roethlisberger was guilty of rape.''

Bright said the woman told him it had been an ''unnerving experience'' and that she and her family made it clear they did not want the matter prosecuted.

One of the 20-year-old woman's attorneys, David Walbert, said in a letter to Bright that his client was not recanting her accusation. But the letter, released to the media Monday, said she did not want to go to trial because it would be ''a very intrusive personal experience.''

Lee Parks, another attorney for the woman, said in a statement that he was pleased Bright honored his client's request.

Ed Garland, Roethlisberger's attorney, refused to say during a brief news conference Monday whether the quarterback had been threatened with a lawsuit or whether he was considering filing one against his accuser.

Garland said he had spoken to Roethlisberger today and ''he was glad that this matter is over."