Regardless of whether a confidential settlement has been reached between Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his alleged victim in Georgia, it’s clear that she wants full and complete closure.
She likely won’t get it.
An e-mail from a reader and a new report from TMZ regarding the intentions of lawyer Calvin Dunlap to proceed with the civil suit in Nevada have caused us to realize, on a better-late-than-never basis, that the alleged victim in Georgia likely will be subpoenaed to testify at a deposition in the Nevada case. She won’t have to actually go to Nevada; Dunlap and the other lawyers would come to Milledgeville and jump through the various legal hoops that apply in Georgia to “discovery” efforts relating to cases pending in other states.
The deposition, which would be videotaped, could then be played at the trial of the Nevada case, if the judge in Nevada ultimately concludes that the Georgia allegation falls within the scope of the evidence rule that permits other specific incidents to be introduced in order to show “motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.” (The Federal Rules of Evidence and the rules of evidence in most states contain that language. We have been unable to confirm that the Nevada Rules of Evidence contain a similar provision; we’d be surprised if they don’t.)
Per TMZ, Dunlap also plans to pursue any available portions of the Georgia investigation, including interviews and police reports. These documents, coupled with the alleged victim’s testimony, will be critical to Dunlap’s effort to establish that Roethlisberger did something he shouldn’t have done in that small, five-foot-wide, single-commode bathroom in the back of a Milledgeville nightclub. And Dunlap will need to have solid evidence; many judges abhor this “other acts” because of its potential to create a trial within a trial on the question of whether the defendant is responsible for the other incident that’s being used as evidence of responsibility for the incident at issue.
Finally, look for Dunlap to explore aggressively the question of whether a settlement occurred. If — and that remains a big if — the Georgia victim opted to request that the charges be dropped as part of a negotiated financial payment, Dunlap will be entitled to know that. Of course, Roethlisberger’s lawyers would work just as aggressively to ensure that any such information isn’t publicly revealed. If, in the end, the Nevada case goes to trial and the judge decides to allow evidence of the Georgia incident, there’s a chance that the settlement would be revealed in public court proceedings.
As a practical matter, that possibility is too far down the road in the Nevada case to have been a factor in whether Roethlisbeger should settle with the alleged victim in Georgia, if that’s indeed what happened. Still, the Nevada case could be the only way that this information ever would come to light — short of the alleged victim suddenly showing up for her college classes in a black-and-gold Ferrari.