Roethlisberger seeking unspecified counter damages from accuser

RENO, Nev. -- Ben Roethlisberger is seeking unspecified counter damages from a woman he says falsely accused him of rape in what his lawyer describes as a plan she hatched to seduce the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback in his Lake Tahoe casino-hotel room.

The woman alleged in a civil suit filed in Washoe District Court in July that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her at Harrah's in July 2008 after he lured her there under the false pretense of needing his television repaired.


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Roethlisberger's lawyer, John Echeverria, said in a response to the lawsuit filed this week that the woman made up the story because she knew it was against Harrah's policy for employees to visit a guest's room without a work-related purpose.

Her violation of the policy "was a deliberate step in her plan to seduce Mr. Roethlisberger," Echeverria wrote.

"At all times while she was in Mr. Roethlisberger's room, (the woman) acted voluntarily. Mr. Roethlisberger did not sexually assault, assault, batter, falsely imprison or otherwise commit any crime."

The response to the lawsuit includes counterclaims against the two-time Super Bowl winner's accuser for "extortion, abuse of process and defamation."

He seeks unspecified damages in excess of $10,000 to compensate for "lost opportunity for endorsement deals and other revenues, damage to his reputation, emotional distress and legal fees and costs."

The woman "willfully, intentionally and maliciously made and published unprivileged defamatory statements including that Mr. Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her," Echeverria said.

Cal Dunlap, the woman's lawyer, said Friday he had no comment on the new filing.

The woman's lawsuit alleges hotel officials for Harrah's Lake Tahoe went to great lengths to cover up the incident. It seeks a minimum of $440,000 in damages from the quarterback, at least $50,000 in damages from the Harrah's officials and an unspecified amount of punitive damages "sufficient to deter" Roethlisberger and the others "from engaging in such conduct in the future."

The woman's lawsuit says she didn't file a criminal complaint because she feared Harrah's would side with Roethlisberger and she would be fired.

The woman said once she went to Roethlisberger's room, she determined the TV was functioning properly but as she turned to leave, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound NFL star blocked her exit. She claims he grabbed her and started to kiss her, and she was "shocked and stunned that this previously friendly man, that appeared to be a gentleman in her previous contacts with him was suddenly preventing her from leaving, was assaulting her and battering her."

She said she feared he could or would physically harm her if she tried to fight him off, but that she objected and protested several times to no avail.

Echeverria said in the new filing the woman "has a history of using sex and lies to get what she wants."

He said the woman and her lawyer have engaged in a "conspiracy to wave a tangled web of lies, deceit and misdirection in the hopes of leveraging a quick and extortionate payoff from a celebrity known for his good character, athletic talent and generosity to his community.

"The resulting complaint is based on the fantastical imaginings of a desperate woman with significant credibility issues."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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