Roethlisberger banned 6 games

Pittsburgh Steelers' star quarterback suspended under personal conduct policy after avoiding sexual-assault charge

Published April 21, 2010 5:45PM (EDT)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been suspended for six games without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement Wednesday. Roethlisberger also must undergo a "comprehensive behavioral evaluation by medical professionals." The suspension could be reduced to four games for good behavior after the behavioral evaluation is completed.

Last week, prosecutors decided not to charge Roethlisberger after a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended for four to six games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the league hasn't announced its decision.

Last week, prosecutors decided not to charge Roethlisberger after a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Georgia nightclub in March.

ESPN first reported the suspension.

Both ESPN and were reporting that the suspension would contain conditions that would allow the length of the ban to be reduced.

The suspension was expected by the Steelers, who reacquired quarterback Byron Leftwich from Tampa Bay on Tuesday night for a seventh-round draft pick. Leftwich is expected to compete with third-year QB Dennis Dixon to start the Steelers' first four games, which include three against non-playoff teams from last season. The Steelers now have four quarterbacks on their roster.

Privately, the Steelers were girding for a suspension of as many as eight games.

The NFL and the Steelers were angered and embarrassed by the tawdry details of Roethlisberger's night out March 3.

In a statement to police, the 20-year-old college student said Roethlisberger encouraged her, and her friends, to take numerous shots of alcohol. Then one of his bodyguards escorted her into a hallway at the Capital City nightclub in Milledgeville, Ga., sat her on a stool and left. She said Roethlisberger walked down the hallway and exposed himself.

"I told him it wasn't ok, no, we don't need to do this and I proceeded to get up and try to leave," she said. "I went to the first door I saw, which happened to be a bathroom."

According to her statement, Roethlisberger then followed her into the bathroom and shut the door.

"I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me," she wrote.

Two of her friends said they saw a bodyguard lead her into the hallway and then saw Roethlisberger follow. They said they couldn't see their friend but knew she was drunk and were worried about her.

The statements were among hundreds of pages of the case file made public last week by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Last week, Steelers president Art Rooney II said the team would have imposed sanctions on Roethlisberger before now, but doing so would have permitted the players union to appeal any penalties. Any suspension imposed by Goodell can be appealed only to him.

Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winner and the highest-paid player in franchise history with a $102 million contract, also is being sued in a civil case by a Nevada hotel employee who has accused him of sexually assaulting her in 2008.

Roethlisberger practiced Monday and Tuesday with the Steelers, but he did not talk with reporters.

Milledgeville is a central Georgia college town about 30 miles from where the quarterback owns a lake home.


AP sports writer Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.

By Barry Wilner

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