Back in 2006, Roethlisberger took a header off a car in a very scary motorcycle accident that rearranged part of his face. Although he ended up making it back onto the field for part of training camp, he then was felled by appendicitis that forced him to miss the season opener and followed that up by being battered through much of the Steelers' Super Bowl defense.
Now, just a week before training camp starts, Roethlisberger is facing a civil suit that alleges he sexually assaulted a woman. According to Pro Football Talk, the civil suit alleges that Roethlisberger asked Harrah's casino employee Andrea McNulty up to his room in the casino to fix his television, then sexually assaulted her. The suit charges Roethlisberger with six different civil charges: assault, sexual assault, false imprisonment, false pretenses, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
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Roethlisberger, through attorney David Cornwell, denied all of the charges in a statement to Pro Football Talk.
"Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone; especially Andrea McNulty," Cornwell said.I'm not an attorney, but anyone who's watched any Court TV or Law and Order notices one interesting detail about this case: there is not a criminal case that preceded it. Usually in cases like this, the suspect is charged criminally, then a civil suit follows if the victim wants to receive monetary damages. As everyone remembers, that's what happened in the O.J. Simpson case. He was charged criminally first, was acquitted, then faced civil charges where he was ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. It's worth noting that the standards of proof are lessened in a civil case (it's a preponderance of proof rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt).
To have a criminal suit, two things are needed: 1) a person bringing the complaint, and 2) a decision by the authorities that there is enough evidence to file charges. It's not clear yet if McNulty has tried to file criminal charges.
One of the standard defenses in a case where a wealthy celebrity is involved is an attempt by the defense attorney to portray the person bringing the suit as someone who is only in it for the money. Having a civil suit go forward where no criminal complaint has been heard makes such a defense a lot easier to develop.