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Attorney: Roethlisberger 'completely innocent of any crime'

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- A high-profile defense attorney hired by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger disputed a college student's claim that the two-time Super Bowl champion sexually assaulted her at a Georgia nightclub.

The 20-year-old told police that Roethlisberger, who had been out barhopping with friends, assaulted her early Friday. Roethlisberger hasn't been charged.

"The facts show that there was no criminal activity. No sexual assault occurred," attorney Ed Garland said in a statement Monday. "Ben is completely innocent of any crime."

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Milledgeville police said at a news conference Monday afternoon that they expect to interview Roethlisberger in the next several days. They said they haven't taken a DNA sample from him, but they probably will.

Authorities also said the woman has hired an attorney, though they wouldn't identify him or her. The woman's name hasn't been released.

Police expect to interview about eight people and said they are reviewing video surveillance footage obtained from several businesses. They declined to elaborate.

"The investigation is ongoing. It would be premature to make any announcement at this time," said Fred Bright, district attorney for the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit. "When the facts are in and a decision is made, we will let you know."

Roethlisberger, who owns a home about 30 miles north of Milledgeville on Lake Oconee, also is being sued by a woman who claims the quarterback raped her in 2008 at a hotel-casino in Lake Tahoe, an allegation he strongly denies.

Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement Monday that the team is closely monitoring the Milledgeville situation.

"All of us in the Steelers family are concerned about the recent incident involving Ben Roethlisberger in Georgia," the statement said. "We cannot comment on any of the specifics until law enforcement's investigation is concluded."

Garland, Roethlisberger's new attorney, previously represented rapper T.I. on a federal weapons charge and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in a murder case. More serious charges against Lewis were dropped, and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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