Steelers Quarterback Accused of Rape

July 21, 2009 - 3:53 PM
A woman has filed a lawsuit accusing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of raping her last summer in his penthouse room at a casino in Lake Tahoe during a celebrity golf tournament.

Ben Roethlisberger arrives at the ESPY Awards on Wednesday July 15, 2009, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Reno, Nev. (AP) - A woman has filed a lawsuit accusing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of raping her last summer in his penthouse room at a casino in Lake Tahoe during a celebrity golf tournament.
 
Roethlisberger's lawyer adamantly denied the allegations Tuesday.
 
"Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone. The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct. If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated," David Cornwell said in a statement.
 
The claim seeks at least $390,000 in damages from the quarterback, who has won two Super Bowls and is one of biggest names in sports. The lawsuit also alleges hotel officials for Harrah's Lake Tahoe went to great lengths to cover up the incident.
 
Teresa Duffy, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office in Douglas County, which includes part of Lake Tahoe, said no complaints were filed about such an incident either with sheriff's deputies or the district attorney's office.
 
The woman's lawsuit says she didn't file a criminal complaint because she feared she would be fired and expected Harrah's would side with Roethlisberger.
 
The woman said she had been promoted from VIP shift manager and was working as an executive casino host when Roethlisberger struck up a friendly conversation at her desk during the golf tournament.
 
The next day, July 11, 2008, she said he telephoned her to tell her his television sound system wasn't working and asked her to look at it.
 
She said she was unable to find a technician so she decided to handle it herself because she had been told how important it was to please celebrities.
 
In Roethlisberger's room she said she determined the TV was functioning properly but as she turned to leave but the 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback stood in front of the day and blocked her, the suit claims.
 
The lawsuit said he then grabbed her and started to kiss her. It said she was "shocked and stunned that this previously friendly man, that appeared to be a gentleman in her previous contacts with him was suddenly preventing her from leaving, was assaulting her and battering her."
 
She said she feared that because he was a football player he could or would physically harm her if she tried to fight him off but that she objected and protested several times.
 
"But instead of stopping, Roethlisberger began fondling plaintiff through her dress and between her legs," the suit said. He then "held her against her will and physically moved plaintiff and pushed her onto his bed" here he raped her, the suit says.
 
She told him "You don't want to do this," and begged him "I am not on any type of birth control."
 
Afterward, he asked if there was a security camera in the hallway. She said he then instructed her to claim she had repaired his television if anyone asked why she was in his room.
 
The lawsuit says the woman required hospitalization for treatment for depression after the alleged attack.
 
The woman's lawyer, Calvin R. Dunlap, of Reno, declined to answer questions about the lack of a criminal complaint and why the civil action was brought a year after the incident allegedly took place.
 
"Neither I nor our client will be making any comment," Dunlap said in an e-mail to AP. "We believe the matter should be resolved in court rather than in the media."
 
The lawsuit also names eight Harrah's employees as defendants and alleges the cover-up involved the chief of security at Harrah's Lake Tahoe and was carried out with the knowledge of John Koster, president of Harrah's northern Nevada operations.
 
John Packer, spokesman for the hotel-casino, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
 
The suit says Harrah's security chief Guy Hyder gained the trust of her parents while she was hospitalized for depression and persuaded them to give him a key to her home. She said Hyder and others then entered her home and allegedly erased information from her computer and confiscated it.
 
The lawsuit claims that when the woman first reported the attack to Hyder he dismissed her distress and crying and said she was "over reacting.
 
The woman said Hyder told her that "most girls would feel lucky to get to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger" and that "Koster would love you even more if he knew about this" because Koster was good friends with Roethlisberger and admired him greatly.
 
Steelers spokesman Dave Lockett said Tuesday the team is aware of the lawsuit, and "we are gathering information."