ESPN spokesman Mac Nwulu has provided us with a statement from the folks in Bristol regarding their decision not to mention the civil sexual assault suit against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which to our knowledge has been ignored by every national ESPN platform, with the exception of a player page onto which a blurb from the ESPN/ABC affiliate in Pittsburgh leaked earlier today, as pointed out by Deadspin.
“At this point, we are not reporting the allegations against Ben Roethlisberger because no criminal complaint has been filed,” Nwulu said. “As far as we know, this is a civil lawsuit that Roethlisberger has yet to address publicly.”
Actually, Roethlisberger has addressed the lawsuit publicly, via a Monday night statement from lawyer David Cornwell, who has been retained to represent Roethlisberger.
And let’s be realistic about it. If he’s smart (and, frankly, the jury is still out on that one), Ben won’t ever comment on the case publicly, other than to say, “No comment.”
Besides, we don’t buy for a minute the notion that a civil claim unaccompanied by a criminal complaint makes the situation not newsworthy. Indeed, ESPN posted last night on its NFL page a blurb from the AP regarding the civil suit filed by former NFL kicker Tony Zendejas, in which he claims a violation of his civil rights in connection with, coincidentally, a rape prosecution.
In that case, have the folks who allegedly violated the civil rights of Zendejas been charged criminally? Nope. But that hasn’t kept ESPN from posting the AP item.
And that’s the kicker on this one — ESPN uses stuff from the AP all the time, and the AP has issued a story about the lawsuit against Roethlisberger.
So while we appreciate the fact that ESPN provided us with a statement, we choose to regard it as a hollow attempt to explain away what appears to be a strategy for remaining in the good graces of Ben Roethlisberger.