Attorney: 'Just no way to prosecute' Ben Roethlisberger's case
[url="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/steelers/2010-03-24-ben-roethlisberger-case_N.htm"]http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football ... case_N.htm[/url]
By Gary Mihoces, USA TODAY
The attorney for Ben Roethlisberger says the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has withdrawn its request for a DNA sample from the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback. The bureau is not confirming that, and opinions differ on what such a decision could suggest.
Roethlisberger is under investigation in Milledgeville, Ga., where a 20-year-old college student filed a sexual assault complaint against him March 5. No criminal charges have been filed.
"The GBI is not requesting at this point any DNA testing. They originally requested it, and then they withdrew their request," Roethlisberger's Atlanta-based attorney Ed Garland said Wednesday.
GBI spokesman John Bankhead said: "That came from Garland. We haven't said one way or the other."
Garland declined to speculate on the implications of what he said was the decision to withdraw the DNA testing request.
"My position has been uniform throughout that I'm not going to comment on the evidence or the investigation by the prosecution or the investigation that I'm doing," said Garland.
"I will say that it's my opinion that a thoughtful and thorough investigation is being done by law enforcement."
However, an attorney who represents one of two off-duty western Pennsylvania police officers who were in a group with Roethlisberger in Georgia did see significance in the report from Garland.
"That tells me what I've thought all along. … There's just no way to prosecute this case. There's no crime," said Pittsburgh area attorney Michael Santicola, who represents Coraopolis, Pa., police officer Anthony Barravecchio.
"As a lawyer, that's what it tells me. At the very beginning when I heard the whole story, I kind of shook my head at what they were doing down there. … I can't imagine how in the world they could charge him with any crime."
Page Pate, an Atlanta trial lawyer not involved with the case, took a counter view.
"DNA only becomes important if the person that's been accused said, 'Look I was no where near the girl, we never had any physical contact and she's making all this up,' " said Pate.
"If he's saying, 'Yeah, I was there, I was in the restroom with her, I was in the club with her,' the only issue is whether he assaulted her or whether there was consent involved. Then DNA is not that important. … If the allegation is basically that he grabbed me without my consent, made sexual moves towards me but didn't actually have intercourse, then providing a DNA sample is not going to really help them determine whether or not he did those things."
Police have not revealed the specifics of the allegation.
Under Georgia law, sexual assault includes a broad range of crimes, from rape (with 25 years mandatory imprisonment) to misdemeanor sexual battery, defined as intentionally making "physical contact with the intimate parts of the body of another person" without consent.
Pate on misdemeanor sexual battery convictions in general: "It's only going to be a probation only sentence or a very short jail time, one to two months, with the remainder on probation. I've never seen a misdemeanor sexual battery case result in more time than a couple of months in jail."
Garland said Thursday that he stands by his original statement that "no sexual assault occurred" and that Roethlisberger is "completely innocent."
Garland: "I haven't changed that statement in any respect."
He again declined comment on whether he might allow Roethlisberger to be interviewed by police.