News

Roethlisberger case down to settling final details

The phones are still ringing at the offices of Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright and the GBI in Milledgeville.

Reporters are still chasing leftover details from an allegation that surfaced in early March that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sexually assaulted a 20-year-old Georgia College & State University co-ed. Bright announced Monday that no charges will be filed.

GBI agent Tom Davis said his Milledgeville office is fielding public records requests for information that can be released now that the case is closed.

Between 15 and 20 requests are sitting on his desk as he redacts Social Security numbers and Roethlisberger’s accuser’s name from the case file. Agents at the GBI’s Atlanta headquarters are redacting information from more than 50 interviews recorded on DVD, Davis said.

Although it’s unclear when the information will be released, Davis said he hopes it will happen in the next few days.

“We’re doing it as quickly as we possibly can,” he said.

At the district attorney’s office Tuesday, Bright said he was working on three hours of sleep. He awoke early to be interviewed by “Good Morning America” after getting home at midnight the night before.

“We’ve been swamped,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to normal.”

Bright said his staff worked overtime, coming into the office on nights and weekends, while investigating and deciding whether to file charges against the high-profile NFL quarterback.

Bright said his work weeks have averaged 70 or 80 hours.

But the extra work wasn’t because the office was giving the sexual assault investigation extra attention. He said a case with similar facts would require about five weeks to investigate.

“There’s no question that whoever Mr. Roethlisberger is, it made no difference” in how the case was handled, Bright told reporters at a Monday news conference. “If it was Joe Q. Public with a public defender or no lawyer at all, the result would have been the same.”

The long hours are to be blamed in part on the fact that Bright’s 10 assistant district attorneys continued to work on cases in the eight-county district while also working on the Roethlisberger case.

During a five-day window of the Roethlisberger investigation beginning March 5, the district attorney’s office started work on four homicide cases — two in Baldwin County, one in Jasper County and one in Jones County, Bright said.

GBI agents also worked other cases during the investigation, including a homicide in Forsyth and a shooting in Eatonton, Davis said.

Three agents worked on the Roethlisberger case full time while another helped when time allowed. The manpower was necessary because of the “enormous” number of interviews that agents conducted. Davis put that number at about 100. The office staffs five agents and one crime scene specialist, he said.

In addition, four Milledgeville police detectives worked on the case alongside the GBI, Bright said.

While Bright said the fact that a famous athlete was involved in the case didn’t make a difference in his investigation, Davis had a different take.

“We went above and beyond because of who he was, because of the scrutiny we were under,” Davis said. “We wanted to leave no stone unturned.”

Still, Davis said, the extra attention made it a bit more challenging, especially when Roethlisberger, the accuser and the owner of Capital City bar where the alleged incident took place all retained legal counsel.

“I’m very proud of the job done by the agents and the detectives,” Davis said.

While the case put Milledgeville in the spotlight, GBI agents didn’t feel pressured by their superiors at headquarters in Atlanta, he said.

“They let us do what we do best,” Davis said.

Telegraph staff writer Phillip Ramati contributed to this report.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

  Comments