Former DA in Georgia on why he didn’t prosecute Ben Roethlisberger for alleged rape in 2010: ‘We did not have a case’

Former DA in Georgia on why he didn’t prosecute Ben Roethlisberger for alleged rape in 2010: ‘We did not have a case’

The former Ocmulgee (Ga.) Judicial Circuit district attorney, who in 2010 declined to prosecute Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for an alleged rape, says he has no opinion about Roethlisberger’s years-long decision to use a fictional hometown in his Steelers media guide profile.

“That’s between (Roethlisberger) and his hometown,” says Fred Bright, the now retired Georgia prosecutor. “I’ve never been to Findlay (Ohio). My job as a prosecutor is to determine whether or not I have a prosecutable case, which we did not.”

While Roethlisberger prepares for his AFC wild card playoff game against the Dolphins Sunday in Steel City – nearly seven years removed from the rape allegation in Milledgeville, Ga. – the two-time Super Bowl champion appears to still hold a grudge against his real hometown of Findlay, Ohio, where he grew up and was a high school football star.

According to a recent Sports Illustrated profile, Roethlisberger switched his hometown from Findlay to the fictitious Cory Rawson in the team media guide starting in 2010, after the Milledgeville case concluded with Bright’s decision not to prosecute the QB. The SI profile says that Roethlisberger is still bitter with Findlay residents for the way he was treated after the rape allegation in Georgia surfaced.

Roethlisberger was investigated but never charged in the Milledgeville case, nor was he charged in Nevada, where a woman named Andrea McNulty accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her in 2008 in Lake Tahoe. McNulty filed a civil suit against Roethlisberger, and a settlement was reached for an undisclosed amount.

Bright says today that he has no lingering doubts about his decision in 2010.

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“It wasn’t a difficult decision,” says Bright. “I’m a prosecutor seeking justice, and we did not have a case. It was not even a close call.”

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers face the Miami Dolphins in a wild card game on Sunday.

Bright adds that after the alleged victim in the Milledgeville case and her attorney stated that she did not want to pursue the case, Bright wanted to hear from the woman directly, and he and members of the Milledgeville Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation — two agencies that investigated Roethlisberger in the case — drove to the woman’s home to meet.

“Her mother and her lawyer and she made it crystal clear that they did not want to go forward with this,” says Bright. “It would have been the wrong thing to do to prosecute Roethlisberger. There was that line that I used in the (2010) press conference, ‘We do not prosecute morals, we prosecute crimes.’”

Bright says that he is not aware of Roethlisberger making any kind of payoff to the alleged victim in the Milledgeville case. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Roethlisberger for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, but the punishment was later reduced to four games.

During the 2010 presser, Bright famously told Roethlisberger to “grow up” and to be a better role model, and today, the retired prosecutor says he hasn’t heard any negative news about Roethlisberger in the years since.

“I heard that he got married, has three kids. If all that is true, that’s a good thing. He seems to have grown up,” says Bright. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that had the case gone to trial, a jury would have found (Roethlisberger) not guilty. To be blunt, my decision was the only decision that could be reached by any responsible prosecutor.”

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