For the second time in two years, Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman. As is often the case, questions about celebrities and public figures receiving preferential treatment from police are circulating throughout the media. As one of football's highest paid stars, Roethlisberger's lives a high-profile life, and his encounters with women have been put under a microscope. Thus far, regarding the alleged assaults, it seems the court of public opinion has found him guilty.
The first case allegedly took place in the quarterback's Lake Tahoe hotel. Andrea McNulty claimed that Roethlisberger and nine other men sexually assaulted her after a celebrity golf tournament in June 2008. No criminal complaints were filed in that case, but McNulty pursued a civil suit that was said to have been seeking nearly a half a million dollars in damages from her attackers and another $50,000 from Harrah's Lake Tahoe staff for covering up the attack. A crushing affidavit from an Andrea McNulty coworker alleged McNulty had bragged about engaging in consensual sex with Roethlisberger and said she even hoped she was pregnant with the football star's child. Allegations suggesting extortion have since surrounded the civil suit, which is currently awaiting a court date in Douglas County.
Roethlisberger, or Big Ben, as football fans call him, found himself in hot water once again after an evening of nightclubbing in Atlanta in celebration of his birthday. A 20-year-old college student claims that Roethlisberger raped her in the restroom of one of the nightclubs that he and his friends attended that evening. The woman was hospitalized after slipping and injuring her head in an incident that is thought to be separate from the alleged attack. Attorneys for the athlete have vehemently denied his involvement, while he himself has told the media that he is absolutely innocent.
Yet questions remain. Is Ben Roethlisberger being treated differently because of his celebrity status? It's hard to say, but reports that an investigating police officer had his picture taken with the star doesn't exactly suggest the strictest professional behavior on the part of law enforcement personnel involved. Is this a case of extortion? That's another tough call. The young lady involved is being investigated for underage intoxication. Can we assume that Big Ben is guilty since this is his second charge of sexual assault? Absolutely not. While only a jury will be able to determine his guilt or innocence, we, the public, can't assume a man is guilty of rape until all the facts have come to light.