The details are pretty disgusting, but apparently there's not enough evidence to prosecute a crime. The DA's statement on the matter is "We are not condoning Mr. Roethlisberger's actions that night," Bright said. "But we do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes."
Here's the apparent timeline.
- The woman involved had met Roethlisberger at a different club earlier in the night.
- He invited her and several of her sorority sisters to go with him to the VIP section of the Capital City night club
- He bought her and her friends several rounds of alcohol
- The woman headed to a small bathroom
- Roethlisberger followed her and his bodyguards blocked access
From there it's unclear as to what happened. The DA says that there was some DNA recovered but not enough to be able to show who it belonged to. Roethlisberger says he did not have sexual intercourse (which is a pretty specific excuse if you ask me).
Since the woman involved has asked the Georgia prosecutors to not proceed they had to drop the case due to lack of evidence.
Roger Goodell has said he'll be meeting with Roethlisberger before the draft, but I remain unconvinced that any meaningful action will be taken by him. I think he should. This is a defining moment for him. For a Commissioner who reportedly prides himself on discipline this is an opportunity to show that he really means it, rather than just providing lip service.
I'm sure Roethlisberger will be recommended to the League's drug and alcohol program at a minimum but it should be far more.
Even if the league offers no suspension I would not be surprised if the Steeler organization suspended Roethlisberger for several games and looked for trading partners during that time. With the unloading of Holmes for a 5th rounder they're showing that they do not want players who have off-field character issues, and Big Ben is a prime example of off-field character issue.
Update: There's been some discussion about what powers the Commissioner has to act when a player has not been charged with a crime. I thought I'd quote an excerpt from the Policy
All persons associated with the NFL are required to avoid conduct 'detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League. This requirement applies to players, coaches, other team employees, owners, game officials and all others privileged to work in the National Football LeagueWhile criminal conduct is clearly outside the scope of permissible conduct, and persons who engage in criminal activity will be subject to discipline, the standor of conduct for persons employed in the NFL is considerably higher. It is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a cirme. Instead, as an employee of the NFL or a member club, you are held to a higher standard and expected to conduct yourself in a way that is responsible, promotes the values upon which the League is based, and is lawful.Persons who fail to live up to this standard of conduct are guilty of conduct detrimental and subject to discipline, even where the conduct itself does not result in a conviction of a crime. Discipline may be imposed in any of the following circumstances:
- Criminal offenses including, but not limited to, those involving the use or threat of violence; domestic violence and other forms of partner abuse; theft and other property crimes; sex offenses; obstruction or resisting arrest; disorderly conduct; fraud; racketeering; and money laundering.
- Criminal offenses relating to steroids and prohibited substances, or substances of abuse
- Violent or threatening behavior among employees, whether in or outside the workplace
- Possession of a gun or other weapon in any workplace setting
- Conduct that imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person
- Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players
Rooney releases a statement to the media
The investigation process in Georgia has been deliberate and the District Attorney's decision regarding Ben Roethlisberger speaks for itself.
During the past few weeks I have met with Ben on a number of occasions, not only to discuss this incident, but also to discuss his commitment to making sure something like this never happens again. The Pittsburgh Steelers take the conduct of players and staff very seriously. Ben will now have to work hard to earn back the respect and trust of Steelers fans, and to live up to the leadership responsibilities we all expect of him.
In the coming days Ben will meet with Commissioner Goodell to discuss his resolve to abide by the league's personal conduct standards. After consultation with the Commissioner, our organization will determine the next steps in this process.
It looks to me like the Steelers are going to see what Goodell does and if it's not harsh enough they'll take further action.