Remember how Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of rape by a woman in Georgia that one time, and suspended by the NFL for a few games? Yeah, well, let's just put that all behind us now, okay?
That's the tack being taken by many residents of Milledgeville, Ga., where a woman accused Roethlisberger of raping her in a club in March 2010. That's right—last year. Roethlisberger benefited from a bungled up police investigation, and the district attorney declined to prosecute. Roethlisberger was then free to cry, go to church, apologize, and do other window dressing-type things necessary to rehabilitate his image. It apparently worked in some places, though he hasn't convinced all the Steelers fans in Pittsburgh.
"You will not hear anyone talking about no Ben Roethlisberger," a 53-old man tells the Washington Post. "The whole thing, it went away. It really has." Another man chimes says it's like the controversy never happened: "Pittsburgh who? Ben who?" (Maybe this guy just doesn't like Pittsburgh.) Last year!
In case you forgot the details of the rape as well, the Washington Post reminds us:
Roethlisberger met up that night with a 20-year-old student from the school who was wearing a sexually suggestive name tag and had been partying with her sorority sisters. According to police records, the two eventually disappeared into a bathroom, a five-foot-wide, single-stall room with just enough space for a serious accusation to emerge. The young woman, who by all accounts was intoxicated, would later tell police Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her in that bathroom.
Five weeks later, investigators decided they had no case. There wasn't enough DNA evidence, Roethlisberger offered no confession and the accuser ultimately decided she didn't want to prosecute.
Not everybody in town that the Post talked to has forgotten the incident completely—but if they haven't, they aren't all that interested in remembering it. Or they don't think it's a big deal, just as long as the sports star doesn't get into trouble again like that. Or they think the accuser was just out for money or probably the person to blame, anyway. "My daughter would never be in a situation such as that," says one woman interviewee. "I think that's probably why I'm a little more hardened toward her than I am him."
But the worst response comes from the D.A. who declined the case, Fred Bright, because of its importance. Bright lets us know that he's moved on, too. "[Roethlisberger]'s success on the football field, what does that have to do with what happened here in Milledgeville? It's over. The case is over." Dude, the case never even began.
Milledgeville, Ga., has left Ben Roethlisberger controversy behind [Washington Post]
In Pittsburgh, a Quarterback Split [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]