- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RENO, Nev. | A woman has filed a lawsuit accusing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of raping her last summer in his penthouse room at a casino in Lake Tahoe during a celebrity golf tournament.

Roethlisberger’s lawyer adamantly denied the allegations Tuesday.

“Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone. The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct. If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated,” David Cornwell said in a statement.

The claim seeks at least $440,000 in damages from the quarterback, who has won two Super Bowls and is one of the biggest names in sports. The lawsuit also claims hotel officials for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe went to great lengths to cover up the incident. She’s seeking $50,000 in damages from the Harrah’s officials.

Teresa Duffy, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office in Douglas County, which includes part of Lake Tahoe, said no complaints were filed about such an incident either with sheriff’s deputies or the district attorney’s office.

The woman’s lawsuit says she didn’t file a criminal complaint because she feared she would be fired and expected Harrah’s would side with Roethlisberger.

The woman said she had been promoted from VIP shift manager and was working as an executive casino host when Roethlisberger struck up a friendly conversation at her desk during the golf tournament.

The next day, July 11, 2008, she said he telephoned her to tell her his television sound system wasn’t working and asked her to look at it.

She said she was unable to find a technician so she decided to handle it herself because she had been told how important it was to please celebrities.

In Roethlisberger’s room she said she determined the TV was functioning properly, but as she turned to leave, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback stood in front of the door and blocked her, the suit claims.

The lawsuit said he then grabbed her and started to kiss her. It said she was “shocked and stunned that this previously friendly man that appeared to be a gentleman in her previous contacts with him was suddenly preventing her from leaving, was assaulting her and battering her.”

She said she feared that because he was a football player he could or would physically harm her if she tried to fight him off but that she objected and protested several times.

“But instead of stopping, Roethlisberger began fondling plaintiff through her dress and between her legs,” the suit said. He then “held her against her will and physically moved plaintiff and pushed her onto his bed,” where he raped her, the suit says.

She told him, “You don’t want to do this,” and begged him, “I am not on any type of birth control.”

Afterward, he asked whether there was a security camera in the hallway. She said he then instructed her to say she had repaired his television if anyone asked why she was in his room.

The lawsuit says the woman required hospitalization for treatment for depression after the supposed attack.

The woman’s lawyer, Calvin R. Dunlap of Reno, declined to answer questions about the lack of a criminal complaint and why the civil action was brought a year after the incident is said to have taken place.

“Neither I nor our client will be making any comment,” Dunlap said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. “We believe the matter should be resolved in court rather than in the media.”

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