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The McNulty Case: Big Ben’s TV Set Wasn’t Working

Mike Lupica writes at – The complaint was filed more than a week ago in the Second Judicial District Court in Nevada, County of Washoe. The plaintiff is a woman named Andrea McNulty and the Case No. is CV0902222 and her complaint includes a lot of names, but the one that matters is the one in the headlines, and that is Ben Roethlisberger. He is a big guy and one of the biggest stars in sports right now because he has won two Super Bowls for the Pittsburgh Steelers and won the last one with one of the most famous throws and endings in Super Bowl history.

Ms. McNulty, a former casino hotel hostess at the Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, charges in a civil complaint that Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her in his hotel room last July while in Lake Tahoe to play in a celebrity golf tournament. Roethlisberger has vigorously denied this. The police aren’t investigating because McNulty has only filed a civil complaint against Roethlisberger and not a criminal complaint.

But we are back in a hotel room with a famous athlete and a young woman. Just because McNulty has made this charge against Roethlisberger doesn’t mean he laid a hand on her. And just because Roethlisberger is a star championship quarterback for an iconic football team doesn’t mean he is innocent.

People have a right to wonder why McNulty waited a year to come forward, the same way people wondered why a New York City woman once waited a year to accuse three New York Mets of raping her in Florida during spring training. They have a right to wonder why when she did come forward, she went straight to a civil suit, asking for financial damages from Roethlisberger and the hotel from which she is now on paid leave.

But these stories are never neat and simple. Sometimes they never get past the original headlines and that is what might happen here. Of course Roethlisberger’s story is simple and direct: She made it up, he didn’t do it, he’s never done anything like this in his life.

McNulty’s story? It is in the 36 pages of Case No. CV0902222 and you at least ought to read it before you decide if she made the whole thing up, before you decide it can’t possibly be true because she waited so long to file it, that she is nothing more than a troubled woman looking to make a big score off Big Ben, football hero.

What McNulty alleges:

That on Friday night, July 11, 2008, she was at her post on the 17th floor of the Penthouse floor at Harrah’s. That Roethlisberger returned to his room with another young woman, who left 20 minutes later. That Roethlisberger, after walking the first woman to the elevator, mentioned to McNulty that the sound system on his TV set wasn’t working.

Roethlisberger called back, said the set still wasn’t working. McNulty called her boss, couldn’t reach her, couldn’t reach anybody in engineering. Roethlisberger called again. McNulty, mindful of Roethlisberger being a friend of Harrah’s Northern Nevada president John Koster, went to Roethlisberger’s suite, got shown that the set was in the bedroom, said she found no problem with the television set.

Her version of what happened next:

Roethlisberger wouldn’t let her leave, grabbed her and started to kiss her, pushed her onto the bed. She said, “You don’t want to do this” and “Please don’t” and “I’m not on any type of birth control.” And then forced sex on her. McNulty alleges that Roethlisberger asked if there were cameras on the room, told her to just say she had fixed the television and left.

In her telling, the story doesn’t get much better from there. McNulty said that the next morning when she told a man named Guy Hyder, the chief of security at the hotel and someone also named in her complaint, Hyder told her she was “overreacting” and that most “girls” would feel lucky to have sex with someone like Roethlisberger.

The rest of it is about McNulty being treated several times for anxiety and depression, at Reno Renown Hospital, at West Hills, another facility, finally a care facility in Napa Valley while on a family medical leave. She says that much later, when she asked Hyder if he remembered their conversation the morning after the alleged incident, Hyder said he just assumed it was a “date rape thing.”

McNulty kept going to her employers instead of the police and when she finally feared “reprisal” and “termination,” she filed her complaint against Roethlisberger and Koster and Hyder and others.

So McNulty is a troubled woman looking for money, one who will have a world of trouble convincing a judge and jury that she is telling the truth, even though she never went to the cops. Or she is a woman who was sexually assaulted by a star athlete and then abused in a different way by her employers. She is lying or Roethlisberger is lying. Whether it is Harrah’s in Tahoe or the Canterbury in Indianapolis with Mike Tyson or Kobe Bryant in Colorado, we always end up in the exact same place: One hotel room, two people who know what really happened.

But before anybody automatically assumes that Roethlisberger is the victim here, they ought to at least read her side of things, her version of what happened that night on the 17th floor.

And what she says happened after that.


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