Steelers QB set to fight allegations

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 24, 2009

By Ramit Plushnickmasti
Associated PressPITTSBURGH ó Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger vowed Thursday to fight a Lake Tahoe casino hostess’ rape allegations against him, calling them “false and vicious.”
Roethlisberger was served with a civil lawsuit last weekend when he returned to Lake Tahoe, where a 31-year-old Nevada woman alleges the quarterback raped her in a hotel penthouse in July 2008. Roethlisberger was in Nevada on both occasions to compete in a celebrity golf event.
The woman did not file a criminal complaint.
“Saturday was the first I heard of her accusations,” Roethlisberger said. “Her false and vicious allegations are an attack on my family and on me. I would never, ever force myself on a woman.”
In his first public comments on the matter, Roethlisberger read a statement at the Steelers practice complex in Pittsburgh. Dressed in a brown pinstriped suit with no tie, Roethlisberger spoke for less than two minutes and did not respond to questions.
Roethlisberger was accompanied by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin; his agent, Ryan Tollner; and his attorney, David Cornwell. They all left immediately after the statement was read.
Roethlisberger, who is not married, said he would fight what he called “outrageous allegations” but said he would not discuss his private life or the lawsuit in the media.
“The allegations against me are reckless and false,” Roethlisberger said. “As much as I’d like to answer everyone’s questions, I’m going to respect the legal process, and I’m confident that the truth will prevail.”
The woman alleges she was working as a VIP casino host at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and claims the rape took place in Roethlisberger’s room after he called her on a bogus complaint about the television.
According to the lawsuit, Harrah’s executives have been aware of the allegations for months. It says the woman’s lawyer, Cal Dunlap, sent a letter to Harrah’s executives on April 2 “informing them of the assault that had taken place on July 11, 2008.” It also says Harrah’s lawyers responded on April 13 to “dissuade plaintiff from pressing claims against Roethlisberger… and Harrah’s.”
Cornwell did not immediately return a telephone call or e-mail seeking comment.
Minutes after Roethlisberger finished his statement, NBA star Shaquille O’Neal walked into the media room in the Steelers’ headquarters. Roethlisberger is participating in O’Neal’s new reality TV series.
Roethlisberger canceled a news conference to promote the show, but ABC spokesman Edwin Escobar said filming is set for today.