The Ocmulgee Judicial District Attorney has scheduled a Monday morning press conference for release of his charging decision. ESPN has reported that the decision is to refrain from filing any charge against the Steelers quarterback. Some observers infer exoneration (which is yinzer for 'he can play!, he can play!'). Not so fast. Let's look at the preplay, from several angles.
The leaks have involved Ben's DNA (leaking DNA may be a chronic headache for Ben and his employer), the complainant's failure to appear for a law enforcement interview, and the charging decision.
The charging decision leak is persuasive. Had ESPN a minisliver of doubt concerning the announcement, it would not broadcast an unqualified declaration -- because
The DNA leak, which occurred a couple of weeks ago, is less telling. It could have meant investigators had concluded no crime had occurred; but in that circumstance the announcement would have been made long before now. It also could have meant police found no DNA for comparison, or that the police already had Roethlisberger's DNA. Or, it could have signaled law enforcement officers' frustration concerning their investigation . . , which frustration could have been generated the alleged victim's refusal to cooperate.
Why would a 20-year-old woman, after going to the hospital and to the police in tears -- after a man reportedly entered the rest room she occupied, she later emerged injured and crying, and he admitted that sexual contact had occurred and that she had been hurt -- stop cooperating with police?
Roethlisberger Signs $102 Million ContractPerhaps because that contract has influenced additional private encounters, involving lawyers, one of which might explain why the coed would choose to stop cooperating with authorities:
Lawyer: Now, they have offered a tentative settlement proposal, involving a payment, provided you . . .Why might Ben agree to make such a payment?
Coed: Pay? Are you crazy? He raped me!
Parent: Now, dear, let's just listen.
Lawyer: Provided you sign a release, refuse to testify, and indeed you would have to stop cooperating with the authorities in any way.
Coed: I can't believe this. He pushes into my bathroom, he rapes me, and we're talking about money? I mean, he put his . . .
Parent: Calm down, dear. We're just listening.
Lawyer: We also need to consider that you were very intoxicated, while underage, in a bar, which could hurt the case in a couple of ways. Now, the district attorney has told me he also has concerns about some inconsistencies in your accounts of what happened. We must weigh all of these factors very carefully. Now, there also would be a strict confidentiality clause, meaning she could never talk . . .
Parent: Boy, the nerve of these people.
Lawyer: . . . about this ever again, and I mean never, not a word, because any violation whatsoever and the. . .
Coed: I wouldn't go for that for a million dollars.
Lawyers: . . . entire $25 million payment would be at risk.
All: Did you say $25 million dollars?
The district attorney is almost certain to announce that no charges are to be filed. Whether he reached that decision because the facts led to it, or because he was denied the facts when his self-described victim developed an aversion to cooperation, seems difficult to gauge before the district attorney elaborates.
Ben: OK, I just want to start by saying . . .
Lawyer: If you are smart, Mr. Roethlisberger, or even if, as I suspect, your brain is capable of processing little more than the self-preservation instinct, you will say nothing other than 'yes,' and not until I have finished. Is that clear?
Lawyer: I have analyzed the prosecution's case, and as you know I have also conducted my own investigation of this matter. If the police investigation follows the expected course, you should expect to be charged with several counts, including rape.
Ben: Rape? Are you crazy? You don't understand bitches, man.
Lawyer: And you, sir, selected the wrong jurisdiction in which to be accused of a rape involving a local girl. This is not Pittsburgh, where you could rape a high school girl in the middle of the town square and, I am told, the mayor would apologize to you for the scratches on your face. This is Georgia, Mr. Roethlisberger. Deep South Georgia. Do you know the penalty for rape in Georgia, Mr. Roethlisberger?
Lawyer: Here, sir, the penalty for rape is death. Death, Mr. Roethlisberger.
Ben: Whoa. Would I still get suspended?
Lawyer: Now, the Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty for rape is unconstitutional in the United States, so in my professional opinion there is essentially no chance you would actually face execution for this crime. But Georgia continues to keep that death penalty for rape on the statutes, Mr. Roethlisberger, and it does so to send a signal. Do you understand?
Ben: Huh? Not really.
Lawyer: Yes, of course. I advise a settlement, Mr. Roethlisberger. Now, my preliminary discussions on your behalf with the victim's counsel . . .
Ben: Victim? She wanted it, man. You do not know these bitches like I do . . .
Lawyer: . . . and I am confident this entire matter can be closed for a payment of 20 to 25 . . .
Ben: 20 bucks? Why didn't you say so, dude? You had me all scared and shit. 20? Let's do it! You are the man! That'd be like a tip . . . if I left tips. Hell, let's give her a couple grand. I mean, she mighta got roughed up a little bit . ..
Lawyer: . . . [clears throat] 20 to 25 million dollars.
Ben: Million? What? You are bad crazy, dude. If my cops were here -- and I got 'em -- you'd be in cuffs right now.
Lawyer: You have precisely two choices, sir. You can pay the money, as I recommend. Still have enough left to be set for life, likely serve a suspension of some duration, then go back to playing football and your contract . . .
Ben: I mean it, dude, cuffs. You'd be all whining and they'd be asking, like, 'hey, Ben, should we Tase this guy,' and . . .
Lawyer: Or, you are welcome to take your chance with a Georgia jury, which I would expect to convict you of rape. You could spend 10 years in Georgia prisons, plus pay whatever a civil jury would award to this young woman. Most likely, never earn another dime in your life, although you might still have enough left to get by on. No more football, other than perhaps in a prison yard. So, you see, you'll pay either way. The only open question is whether you shall go to prison as well. The choice seems clear, Mr. Roethlisberger.
Ben: Huh? Isn't that what I'm paying you for, figure out stuff like this?
Lawyer: Pay her, Mr. Roethlisberger, and get back to your life.
Ben: You sure, man? She really wasn't worth it. I never even got to . . .
Lawyer: You need to pay her, and you need to agree to do so now, before she provides a formal, recorded statement to the authorities.
DISCLAIMER (made advisable by some things that could appear here next week, and