Monday, April 12, 2010

Breaking news: Roethlisberger will not be charged for rape

UPDATE MONDAY EVENING: The report below was prepared very quickly as the D.A. read his prepared statement.  The following is a more thorough report from a Pittsburgh newspaper, and it contains information from a press conference the D.A. held after reading his statement:

My original report follows:

Baldwin County, Ga. District Attorney Fredric D. Bright announced this afternoon that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not face charges for sexual assault. 

He explained that the duty of a District Attorney is to seek justice, and not merely to convict. He said that the sexual allegation "cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Mr. Bright explained that the crime being investigated was rape, which requires penetration, forcibly and against her will. The circumstances do not lead to a viable prosecution. "We do not prosecute morals; we prosecute crimes."  He revealed that the "victim" (Bright's inappropriate word choice, not mine) wrote on March 17 that she does not want to prosecute.  The District Attorney later met with her, and she confirmed that decision. 

Bright explained that the investigation revealed the following: both parties had been bar hopping and drinking the night in question, and had met at different bars. They participated in various conversations, some of a sexual nature. The "victim" was highly intoxicated. Roethlisberger followed her into a small, less than five-foot wide bathroom.  "Significant questions" remain about what happened in that bathroom.  But the medical examiner found no evidence of rape.  Human male DNA was present.  But the sample was so minute that it could not yield a profile.

Roethlisberger's name made no difference in the investigation, Bright said. This was simply a charge that could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

And based on all that, the District Attorney is to be commended. He did not roll the dice with a man's life, hoping that -- even though he didn't believe there was evidence beyond a reasonable doubt -- perhaps an irrational jury would.

Still, the absence of anonymity for Mr. Roehtlisberger will insure that he is forever tainted as a possible "rapist."  His reputation might never recover from this. Given his fame and wealth, he is in a far better position than most similarly situated presumptively innocent men, who often lose everything under these circumstances.