Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fool Me Twice?

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is being accused of sexual assault by a woman he met in an Atlanta nightclub, has admitted to police he had "sexual contact" with her, but denies assaulting her and claims the injuries she sustained were a result of falling and hitting her head. Given that this is not the first such incident for Roethlisberger - he's currently being sued by another woman in regard to a similar accusation - I'm left with only three possible conclusions:

1.)Ben Roethlisberger is extremely unlucky.
2.)Ben Roethlisberger is an idiot.
3.)Ben Roethlisberger is a serial rapist.

(1) seems rather unlikely. Yes, it's true that professional athletes garner a lot of attention from starstruck women, and many of them indulge themselves (just look at Tiger Woods), and yes, it's likewise true that in some cases these women undoubtedly have questionable motives. Nevertheless most athletes manage to go their entire careers without incurring a single allegation of sexual assault, much less two inside a single calendar year. There do seem to be grounds for doubt about the first allegation against Roethlisberger, but a second incident makes it seem somewhat less likely that he's merely had the misfortune of twice being targeted by gold-digging opportunists. This is particularly true since this second woman has filed criminal rather than civil charges and as things stand now does not stand to gain materially from her accusations. If she later attempts to profit from the situation, the calculus obviously changes, but as of right now, one must wonder why she's inclined to bring the police into it if all she did was hit her head on a bathroom stall partition.

(2) seems the most likely to me at this point. There is ample evidence that Roethlisberger is as dumb as a post - this is a guy who insisted he was going to continue to ride his motorcycle without a helmet, even after suffering serious injuries in a crash that could have very well ended his multimillion dollar gig as a star quarterback. So if there's anybody who'd recklessly get himself into a compromising situation with a woman when he's already being sued for sexual misconduct, it might very well be him. Perhaps it will turn out this woman really is after money or notoriety and Roethlisberger, unlike many of his fellow athletes, is too stupid to recognize and avoid such people. Conversely, maybe other celebrities do get themselves involved in such situations but are smart enough to pay up to keep them quiet, and Big Ben isn't. I suppose we'll find out.

(3) is the possibility nobody wants to think about. Obviously, the man is innocent until proven guilty, but having nasty rumors swirling around a high-profile player is a PR problem no professional sports league wants on its hands. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to see NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sanction Roethlisberger somehow, even if nothing comes of the criminal charges.

The whole mess makes me glad I'm not a Steelers fan. Rooting for Michael Vick was bad enough.

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