Questions swirl around the night that led to sexual assault charges against Ben Roethlisberger. Fellow bargoers and bartenders offer accounts of binge drinking in a sexually charged atmosphere, and their takes on what really went down.
During the offseason, Roethlisberger lives in in Greensboro, Ga. On Thursday night into Friday morning, he and his entourage went barhopping in nearby Milledgeville, nicknamed "Millyvegas" because of the many bars catering to students from the adjacent Georgia College & State University campus.
Roethlisberger's pub crawl went on for at least three-and-a-half hours, so it's doubtful any of the parties who were engaged in postgame analysis on Facebook saw everything that occurred that night. But their collected accounts paint a fairly consistent picture of a debauched night out.
Roethlisberger's crew stopped at a few local watering holes, including Velvet Elvis, Amici Cafe, The Brick, Buffington's, and the site of the alleged incident, Capital City. His group is said to have included women from several GCSU sororities. Before news of the assault charges broke, a local bartender posted a status update saying, "ben roethlisberger was here last night hanging out at the bars in Milledgeville... he was molested by girls everywhere he went." Photos later surfaced, showing Roethlisberger out and about in Milledgeville posing with an array of young ladies at his side.
The bar staff, who are all listed as GCSU students on Facebook, were clearly excited to have a star athlete partying in their midst Almost Famous-style. A bartender who said he served Roethlisberger told us:
"He was as nice as any athlete that I have ever met. People were all over him, guys and girls. His body guards kept some people away to let him have a good time. This situation is sad and I feel for the guy. He was out having a good time just like everybody else and now this is blowing up."
According to Facebook postings from a different local bartender who joined in the discussion of Roethlisberger's night on the town, the QB was drinking "a lot" of "something with patron in it... like patron pineapple and cran." Another Milledgeville bargoer teased Roethlisberger for drinking girly drinks and possibly getting it on in the bar toilet with an update that said, "drank big ben's drink. it was a sex on the beach...what a fag, but it should of been a sex in the bathroom drink."
Friday, as news of the assault charges broke, one of the Milledgeville bartenders said the charges against Roethlisberger were "bullshit" and that "she was all over him that night.... wonder why he pursued??? she saw $$$ signs."
Their claims about his accuser can be called into question because she has only been identified by police as a 20-year-old GCSU sophomore, despite photos circulating claiming to be of her and the QB.
We can't say for sure what happened that night, but it's obvious that this is shaping up to be one of those ugly "he said she said" questions of consent that often seems to arise from the mix of alcohol, athletes, and young women. Sorority bars without a driver's license scanner and a stack of consent waivers are just bad places to be for a pro athlete. You'd think a star like Roethlisberger, with his previous civil suit and his team of handlers, would have learned to avoid this type of situation by now.
Clearly, what happens in "Millyvegas" doesn't stay in "Millyvegas."