On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggested that a decision as to whether Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will face sexual assault charges could be months away.
As it turns out, a decision has been made in less than a week.
Per multiple reports, Ocmulgee (Ga.) Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright will unveil his intended course of action three days from today.
“The investigation, interviews and report in the Roethlisberger matter
have completed and reviewed,” Bright said, per the Milledgeville Union-Recorder. “We will be announcing the
decision in this case at a news conference to be held on Monday, April
12, 2010 at 2 p.m. in the Baldwin County Courthouse.”
Typically, state-court prosecutors don’t hold press conferences to explain that charges won’t be filed. Prosecutors are typically elected, and the victim typically is a voter. It would make no sense, in our view, for Bright to essentially declare to the world via press conference that he doesn’t believe the alleged victim’s account, which thereby will alienate the alleged victim and her family — and create a cluster of folks motivated to recruit and support an opponent the next time Bright runs for re-election. If, on the other hand, Bright will announce an intention to pursue an indictment, he won’t have to worry about ticking off any members of the electorate, since Roethsliberger doesn’t live there.
Bright, a Democrat, faced no opposition in the 2008 general election; he has occupied the position since at least 2005. If the office holds (as it typically does) a four-year term, Bright would be up for re-election again in 2012, assuming that he plans to run and that no term limits apply.
Regardless of whether he’ll be running again in as little as two years, Bright’s position is, at a certain level, inherently political. And it simply wouldn’t be politically prudent to hold a press conference aimed at telling the world that one of the locals is lying.
Also, the fact that Roethlisberger has opted not to submit to a follow up interview leaves Bright with a potentially skewed version of the facts. If he believes the alleged victim’s account, and if Roethlisberger has said nothing that plausibly contradicts her, there’s no reason to do anything other than pursue an indictment.