Lurking on our list of story ideas but never quite making it onto the Rumor Mill over the past several days has been the question of whether Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could have been charged with providing alcohol to a minor under 21 on the evening that culminated in an accusation of sexual assault. Pushing the issue to the top of the stack were the recent comments of Michael Santicola, attorney for Big Ben bodyguard Anthony Barravecchio.
Santicola, who has shown a propensity to exercise his vocal cords in an ill-advised manner, had this to say regarding whether any laws were broken that night: “The only crime that I’ve seen committed right now is the crime of this
girl. She’s underage, she’s bombed out of her mind and she’s in a bar
she shouldn’t be in.”
District attorney Fred Bright addressed during his April 12 press conference/sermon the issue of underage drinking. And Bright was blunt — but for the alleged victim’s desire to move on, Roethlisberger could have been prosecuted for providing alcohol to an underage minor.
“First of all, he, Mr. Roethlisberger, there’s a crime called
furnishing alcohol to a minor under 21, OK?” Bright said. “And she, the victim, there’s
another crime called underage drinking. Both of these crimes are
misdemeanors. Now, if we’re going to prosecute one, we’ve got to
prosecute the other.
Let’s talk about him furnishing alcohol to a minor under 21. The only
way we can prosecute him is through her testimony. As for her, she’s
gone through enough already.”
So, yes, Roethlisberger could have been charged for providing alcohol to an underage minor. And the alleged victim could have been charged for underaged drinking. Thus, the next time Santicola decides to pop off on the matter, he should be sure to also include the potential responsibility of his client’s boss.
Better yet, maybe Santicola should just quit popping off. He’s doing nothing to make himself, his client, or Roethlisberger come off as even remotely sympathetic.
UPDATE: Several of you have raised in the comments that Roethlisberger would have had no way of knowing that the alleged victim was under 21. As explained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on March 7, persons under the age of 21 are permitted to enter the bars but not drink. Those over the age of 21 wear a wristband. The nightclub at which the alleged incident occurred is believed to be “one of the stricter enforcers” of that policy. So if the alleged victim had testified that she wasn’t wearing a wristband, that Roethlisberger gave her alcohol, and that she was close enough to Roethlisberger for him to see that she had no wristband, a conviction could have been obtained — unless he were willing to take the stand in his own defense and testify that he didn’t see that she didn’t have a wristband.