With every new day, a new development seems to unfold in the sexual assault civil action against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a battalion of employees at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe.
And with each development, the claims made by the woman accusing Roethlisberger of sexual assault seem to become weaker.
Though we’ve yet to see a smoking gun, the most recent series of e-mails produced as exhibits to a motion, filed today, to dismiss the claims against several of the Harrah’s employees is perhaps the closest thing we’ve seen to evidence directly refuting the notion that Roethlisberger raped the plaintiff.
In an e-mail that the accuser sent to Guy Hyder, Harrah’s director of security, on the very day the alleged rape occurred, the accuser typed, “Ben is so effing hot and I am so bored.”
Then, two days after the alleged rape, the accuser joked that she was quitting her job and moving to Pittsburgh because she was pregnant with Roethlisberger’s child.
“You can be the god father . . . Uncle Guy,” the accuser wrote in the next e-mail that she sent.
In another e-mail, the accuser wrote, “Hail Mary full of grace give me the strength to not go to his room to fix his television.” (The timing of this e-mail isn’t clear. If it was sent before the alleged assault, then this might very well be a smoking gun.)
Look, Calvin Dunlap can hire if he so chooses a 53-man roster full of experts who’ll testify that rape victims sometimes make light of the trauma they’ve suffered as a coping mechanism. But when the broad array of behaviors in which the accuser engaged after the fact is coupled with an e-mail written prior to the alleged rape in which the accuser comes off like a modern-day Mae West, something is very wrong with this picture.
On one hand, we don’t want to say anything that might keep actual rape victims from coming forward. On the other hand, we’re beginning to fear that this specific case could set back the broader cause by several decades, since the circumstantial evidence seems to be pointing to a conclusion that anything that happened between Roethlisberger and his accuser was consensual. And so when the plaintiff’s claim fails — and fail we now believe it likely will — women who truly have been victimized might decide to remain silent based solely on the fact that Roethlisberger’s accuser wasn’t able to make her apparently trumped-up charges stick.