Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger no longer faces prosecution over a claim of sexual assault in Georgia, but he does face the real possibility of punishment from the Steelers and/or the National Football League that includes a suspension.
Fred Bright, the district attorney of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit in Georgia, announced this afternoon that he will not prosecute the case, but in doing so revealed some graphic details of what happened the night of March 4 and early morning hours of March 5 in a Milledgeville, Ga., nightclub. A 20-year-old woman claimed that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her, although she later asked the DA not to pursue the case.
"We are not condoning Mr. Roethlisberger's actions that night,'' Bright said at a news conference. "But we do not prosecute morals, we prosecute crimes."
The NFL and the Steelers, however, can punish the quarterback based on the league's conduct policy and a team's possible claim to conduct detrimental to the ballclub. One of the possible issues is Bright's conclusion that Roethlisberger could have been cited for providing alcohol to a minor.
Multiple Steelers sources indicated today that Steelers President Art Rooney is considering various types of punishment for his quarterback that could include suspension from a game or games in 2010. It's also possible the NFL could take that decision out of Rooney's hands by issuing a suspension under the league's conduct policy.