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Accuser says Roethlisberger's 'bodyguards' complicit in alleged rape

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Ben Roethlisberger's accuser gave Milledgeville, Ga., police a detailed, written account of how the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback's "bodyguards" were actively involved in him allegedly raping her, according to public documents obtained Thursday by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Associated Press.

In one of two statements the accuser gave to police, the 20-year-old college student said the "bodyguards" -- later identified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as off-duty police officers Ed Joyner and Anthony Barravecchio -- prevented her friends from getting to her while she was in a small bathroom with Roethlisberger on March 5 at the Capital City nightclub.

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"He said, Hey,' and he started talking to [redacted] (nothing in particular), and his bodyguards took him back to the 'room' w/ bathroom," the woman wrote in her statement. "I said, 'I don't know if this is a good idea,' and he said, 'It's OK.' He had sex w/me and meanwhile his bodyguards told my friends they couldn't pass them to get to me."

The statements were included in the Roethlisberger case file that the GBI made public Thursday under the state's open-records law. The case officially was closed Wednesday.

Roethlisberger, who learned this week that Georgia authorities wouldn't charge him after their monthlong investigation into the sexual-assault allegation, made "crude, sexual remarks" and called the woman a "tease" during a night of bar-hopping before the incident, she said.

The woman also said Roethlisberger told her, and her friends, to take numerous shots of alcohol. Then one of his bodyguards escorted her into a hallway at the nightclub, sat her on a stool and left. She said Roethlisberger walked down the hallway and exposed himself.

"I told him it wasn't OK, no, we don't need to do this and I proceeded to get up and try to leave," she said.

According to the woman's statement, Roethlisberger then followed her into a nearby bathroom and shut the door.

"I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me," she wrote. "He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything."

Nicole Biancofiore, one of the woman's friends who also provided an account to police, said the woman "was dragged by a bodyguard to the back room in Capital (City). She was extremely intoxicated and not aware of what was happening." Biancofiore also said she saw another friend, Aliesha Scholten, try to open the locked bathroom door, but "she was taken away by a bodyguard of Ben's."

Another one of the woman's friends, Ann Marie Lubatti, said she "approached the other security guard and told him that she [the accuser] was in no shape to be back there with Ben Roethlisberger. He couldn't look me in the eye, and told me he didn't know what was going on. My friend went to open the door, and it was locked."

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The GBI identified that bodyguard as Joyner and determined the man who led Roethlisberger's accuser down the hallway was Barravecchio. Joyner is a Pennsylvania trooper, and Barravecchio is an officer in Coraopolis, Pa., a Pittsburgh suburb.

Attorney Michael Santicola, who represents Barravecchio but said Joyner also is a longtime friend, confirmed March 10 that the two officers were present, but not in an official capacity. He said the two men are friends with Roethlisberger and didn't witness any criminal activity or inappropriate behavior. He said the officers "have no memory" of meeting his accuser.

Lt. Myra A. Taylor, a spokeswoman for Pennsylvania State Police, said Thursday night that the agency is receiving a copy of the investigative report from Georgia authorities.

"We will thoroughly review the report and determine if there is a violation of Department regulations on the part of Trooper Edward Joyner," she said.

According to the investigators' summary of events, Roethlisberger's friend, Brad Aurila, had a conversation with the quarterback when they returned to his house that night and asked him why police showed up at the nightclub. In an interview with police, Aurila said Roethlisberger told him nothing had happened and that he "was in the back with a girl" and they were "messing around." Aurila said he "took 'messing around' to mean 'kissing, whatever.'"

Roethlisberger was surrounded by women, according to statements made by the accuser's friends.

"At the back of Capital City, the room was blocked off for him and females only," Biancofiore wrote in a statement to police.

After the accuser emerged from the bar and told Biancofiore and Lubatti about the encounter, the women left.

"I walked up to the first cop car we saw and told them what happened," Lubatti said in a statement.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is reviewing the matter, and Steelers president Art Rooney II said Thursday that the league and team probably won't settle on any punishment until after next week's draft.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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