Big Ben’s “Bodyguards Guarded Bathroom Door”

A.J. Perez of AOL’s Fanhouse.com has a fresh witness account from the Georgia bar on the evening that Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault.

Big Ben I'm Used To Going Out And Doing Something Stupid

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19-year-old Thomas Freeman told Perez he was aware of something involving Roethlisberger taking place in the bar’s bathroom:

“His bodyguards were back there guarding the door to the bathroom. I don’t know exactly what was going on.”

Pittsburgh attorney Michael Santicola confirmed to KDKA in Pittsburgh that he is now representing two Pittsburgh-area members of law enforcement. Those individuals, Coraopolis Officer Tony Barravechio and Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Ed Joyner were with Roethlisberger on the night in question.

Attorney Santicola said the two were only in attendance as “friends” of Roethlisberger.

“They were not there in any official capacity at all,” said Santicola. “They’re friends with Ben. They were there as friends, celebrating his birthday.”

WTAE-TV though reports that in 2005 Joyner applied to his employer, the Pennsylvania State Police, for authorization of “supplemental employment.” In the application, which was approved, Joyner listed his duties as being “driver and assistant to Ben Roethlisberger.”

WTAE also contacted the Coraopolis Police Dept. “repeatedly” about the nature of Barravechio’s relationship with Roethlisberger but received no response.

Carl Prine of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW reports today that at 2:30 am on the night of the incident, the alleged victim, “told police she had been sexually assaulted in what’s normally a locked staff bathroom a dozen or more paces away from the ‘VIP’ room.

Attorney Santicola said of Roethlisberger’s “friend,” officer Barravechio to KDKA:

“He was just there. He was with him, and he didn’t see any kind activity that would indicate what’s been alleged.”

Santicola added to WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh::

“I do know unequivocally that no criminal activity took place from Tony’s (Barravecchio) perspective and everything else we know that absolutely these allegations are not true.”

WTAE adds:

One source who spoke with both of those officers in the past few days told Cipriani that the two men never noticed anything wrong at the club and were surprised by the 20-year-old woman’s allegation that a sex assault occurred there early Friday morning.

The Milledgeville Ga., police officer who wrote the initial report of the alleged sexual assault, a report that did not name Roethlisberger and has been characterized as “sparse“, took a photo with the Pittsburgh quarterback an hour before the complaint from the alleged victim was made.

Of that photo and a group photo of Roethlisberger and local police officers, Colin Dunlap of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE reports:

(Milledgeville) Chief Blue, who would not answer any questions about the ongoing investigation, said Mr. Roethlisberger’s party, which included off-duty Coraopolis police Officer Anthony Barravecchio and off-duty Pennsylvania State Trooper Ed Joyner, sought out his officers.

“In the group photo, the officers were out there just talking,” Chief Blue said. “The officers were actually approached by someone in Mr. Roethlisberger’s party who came up to them and asked them if Mr. Roethlisberger could get his photo taken with the law enforcement agents.”

Attorney Santicola also noted to WTAE that the same two Pennsylvania-based officers who may have set up the photo of Roethlisberger and local law enforcement have not been contacted by any members of the Milledgeville Police Dept. since the night in question:

¬†When you ask me if Georgia authorities have contacted him, the answer is ‘no,’ and it’s now been over a week and everybody was at the same place at the same time at one point in time. It makes me think, assuming these authorities — they’re good police officers and they know what they’re doing — and something gave them reason to pause.

Santicola though added to KDKA about the Milledgeville Police:

But Georgian investigators now want to interview Roethlisberger again as well as those with him.

“Everybody’s going to cooperate,” said Santicola. “I know my client is. He always would, and had he been asked any questions he certainly would have answered them.”

Santicola questions why police in Milledgeville did not do that on the night in question.

“You would think they would investigate at that point in time,” he said. “That they would take down names of individuals; that they would question them, have them make statements, bring them into the station.”

Of his latter point, Santicola is correct. Though that contradicts Santicola’s earlier statement about the Milledgeville cops:

It makes me think, assuming these authorities — they’re good police officers and they know what they’re doing — and something gave them reason to pause.

Perhaps the Pittsburgh media can followup with Santicola to confirm which statement he wants to go with.