Roethlisberger criminal investigation would require complaint
July 22, 2009
Unless the woman who accused Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of raping her files a criminal complaint, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office cannot open an investigation.
Sheriff Ron Pierini said Wednesday that 30-year-old Andrea McNulty who named Roethlisberger as her assailant in a civil lawsuit must file a report with the sheriff’s office to start an official investigation.
“A victim or any witness could come forward and file a report, but she has not done so. We have no records whatsoever,” Pierini said.
Since the civil lawsuit was filed Friday in Washoe County alleging Roethlisberger assaulted the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe executive VIP casino host a year ago, Pierini’s office has been deluged with telephone calls.
Two Pittsburgh news outlets sent reporters to interview him on Wednesday.
While Pierini can’t attest to McNulty’s claims, he said it’s not unusual for victims of sexual assault to delay reporting an offense.
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“I do understand why sexual assault victims don’t report until later or never report the allegations,” he said. “Sometimes they fear embarassment or retaliation.”
Since the allegations have been made public in the lawsuit, Pierini said he wishes McNulty would come forward so the sheriff’s office could open an investigation.
“The proper way of doing this would have been after the incident happened, to immediately call us and file a report. I do wish if this did actually occur that she would come down now,” he said.
“We’ve had people saying we should start an investigation now because we’re aware of it (the complaint),” Pierini said. “But we haven’t had a victim or witness who saw the event or part of it come to the office and make a complaint. Legally, there is no avenue to do it.”
Pierini said the only contact the sheriff’s office had with McNulty came through three criminal complaints which she filed or was mentioned.
McNulty filed a burglary report on March 27, 2008; was named in an unrelated burglary report Dec. 21, 2008, and filed a harassment complaint Jan. 18 against the man who filed the second burglary report.
In the March 2008 report, McNulty told deputies nearly $4,000 in property had been stolen from the garage of her Marla Bay residence.
She said she lost two bicycles, luggage and clothing, a digital camera, a platinum necklace, an oil painting, fishing equipment, and snowshoes.
On Dec. 21, 2008, a man who described himself as McNulty’s boyfriend claimed $7,055 in jewelry was stolen from his Zephyr Heights residence.
A few days later, the man’s relatives confirmed he was bi-polar and schizophrenic and that the jewelry was locked in a safe.
In January, McNulty filed a harassment complaint against the man whom she met while both were hospitalized in Reno for mental health issues.
In the lawsuit, McNulty attributed her deteriorating mental health that required several hospitalizations to post-traumatic stress from the alleged rape.
She claimed in the lawsuit that Harrah’s officials knew of the incident and failed to report it and pressured her into keeping it quiet.
McNulty claimed the rape occurred July 11, 2008, while Roethlisberger participated in the 2008 American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Golf Course.
His attorney denied the allegation.
The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $440,000 in damages from the quarterback, at least $50,000 in damages from eight 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.”
Pierini said the alleged failure of the casino to report the allegation “would not be typical.”
“We have good working relationships with all the casinos,” Pierini said. “They immediately call the sheriff’s office. It would not be typical for them not to do that.”