Pennsylvania officials investigating trooper who was with Big Ben

A Pennsylvania state trooper who was with Ben Roethlisberger the night he was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female college student in a Georgia nightclub is subject to the agency's code of conduct even though he was working for the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, police said Friday.

An ongoing internal investigation will determine whether Trooper Ed Joyner did anything "that could reasonably be expected to destroy public respect for the Pennsylvania State Police or confidence in the state police," said Lt. Myra Taylor, a state police spokeswoman.

A friend of the accuser said in a statement to Milledgeville, Ga., police that a "bodyguard" refused to acknowledge that the woman, who had been drinking, was alone with Roethlisberger in the back of a nightclub.

Ann Marie Lubatti told police on March 5 that she told the bodyguard, "This isn't right. My friend is back there with Ben. She needs to come back right now."

Lubatti said the bodyguard wouldn't look her in the eye and said he didn't know what she was talking about. Georgia investigators later identified that man as Joyner.

Taylor said Joyner had permission from the state police to work off-duty for Roethlisberger since 2005, with his duties including answering phones and fan mail, as well as driving and accompanying the quarterback to charitable events. Joyner's request to work for Roethlisberger doesn't include the term "bodyguard," nor is there any reference made to personal protection or similar duties, Taylor said.

A reporter who called Joyner's barracks Friday was referred to Taylor for comment. The Associated Press couldn't immediately confirm the trooper's home phone number.

Roethlisberger's accuser said in a March 5 statement that the quarterback had sex with her after she was led by another bodyguard -- identified by Georgia investigators as Coraopolis, Pa., police officer Anthony Barravecchio -- to an isolated area in the club.

"Meanwhile, his bodyguards told my friends they couldn't pass them to get to me," she wrote in a statement the night of the incident.

Georgia officials announced earlier this week that Roethlisberger wouldn't be charged in the case.

Michael Santicola, Barravecchio's attorney, said Friday that his client "did nothing immoral, nothing unethical and nothing illegal. And any statements made by drunken college girls otherwise is incorrect."

In interviews with Georgia investigators, witnesses repeatedly described Joyner and Barravecchio as Roethlisberger's "bodyguards." The statements were among hundreds of pages of the investigative files made public by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Thursday.

Santicola said Barravecchio used to work as Roethlisberger's "personal assistant" but doesn't anymore. Santicola said he didn't know whether Barravecchio paid his own way on the trip but said he was "absolutely not" employed as Roethlisberger's bodyguard at the club.

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Coraopolis police chief Alan DeRusso said Barravecchio is a friend of Roethlisberger's and was on vacation when he went with the quarterback to Georgia. The officer isn't suspended or under any kind of internal department investigation and remains on the schedule full-time, the chief said.

"The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has contacted me, and as far as I was told from them, they needed nothing from me and they needed nothing from him," DeRusso said.

DeRusso said his department doesn't regulate outside work by officers.

Thomas Martinelli, a Michigan attorney and expert witness on police misconduct, said departmental policies on outside work vary widely. He said it's a bad idea to let officers work as bodyguards while off duty because they could be injured or open their departments to liability for their actions.

Outside job policies aside, most departments rely on the code of ethics of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. "In there, it says, 'I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all,'" Martinelli said.

Referring specifically to the Roethlisberger situation, Martinelli said a police agency might well question the presence of officers that night.

"Could one make an ethical argument that these officers should have extricated themselves from this situation before it escalated?" Martinelli said. "You could make that argument on behalf of an agency."

The incident already has cost one Georgia officer his job. Sgt. Jerry Blash, who took the first report from Roethlisberger's accuser, resigned Wednesday, Milledgeville police chief Woodrow Blue confirmed Friday.

Blash, the only officer who interviewed Roethlisberger, acknowledged in an interview with investigators that he made some derogatory comments about the alleged victim to other officers.


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Multiple calls to a number listed for Blash rang unanswered.

It also was revealed Thursday that Georgia investigators sought to question another woman about separate incidents reportedly involving Roethlisberger.

GBI documents show that after the most recent accusation surfaced, a 16-year-old in a youth law-enforcement program told authorities he knew about incidents involving Roethlisberger and a friend's sister. Authorities repeatedly sought to interview the woman, who's in her early 20s, but she declined.

The teen had said he believed Roethlisberger twice made unwanted sexual advances toward the woman.

A message seeking comment about the possible earlier incidents were left with Roethlisberger's lawyer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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