Curiously missing from the public statement given Thursday by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was a denial of any contact or activity with the woman claiming in civil court that he sexually assaulted her.
And we’ve discerned from reading between the lines of the statement and conferring with sources that the words were carefully crafted to focus on whether Roethlisberger “forced [himself]” on Andrea McNulty.
So he’s denying “sexual assault,” and he won’t be addressing in the media whether he had consensual relations with McNulty. But, if/when required to answer questions truthfully within the confines of the legal proceedings, it appears that he will admit to some type of interaction with McNulty.
Indeed, he might have no choice. If Harrah’s preserved surveillance images of McNulty entering and exiting the room, it could end up being clear that they were together behind closed doors for some finite period of time on the evening in question.
And so the ultimate issue will be whether McNulty consented to whatever it is that Roethlisberger eventually will admit to doing with her. Given a reduced legal standard that allows her to prevail merely by proving that her version is more likely true than his, Roethlisberger’s vow to fight necessarily will entail very, very high stakes.
Indeed, even without any current plans to prosecute him criminally, Roethlisberger could in theory have a Nathan Jessup-style meltdown at some point while testifying.
Finally, for those of you who haven’t seen the video of the statement, our friends at NBC have forwarded it to us.