A photograph that shows Milledgeville, Ga., police officers posing with the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback about an hour before an alleged sexual assault last week shouldn't have any bearing on the case, the police chief said.
"It's really much ado about nothing," Chief Woodrow Blue said.
Ben Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Steelers, was accused of sexual assault by a 20-year-old Georgia College & State University student at the Capital City nightclub in the early hours of March 5 in downtown Milledgeville. No charges have been filed in the case.
The photograph, which was posted on the TMZ.com Web site, shows Roethlisberger in a group shot that included two on-duty Milledgeville police officers, including Sgt. Jerry Blash, who handled the paperwork on the sexual assault police report a few hours later.
Two off-duty Milledgeville police officers and an off-duty Georgia College & State University officer also were in the photo, Blue said.
There was no violation of any department policy for on-duty officers to have their pictures taken, the chief said.
Blue said the officers were invited to pose with Roethlisberger by an off-duty Pennsylvania state trooper, who was part of the quarterback's entourage that night.
Blash's involvement with the investigation was limited to turning the report over to a detective, Blue said.
Blue said the intense media scrutiny — news organizations from Georgia and Pennsylvania, as well as national media such as TMZ, ESPN and CNN all descended on Milledgeville this week — hasn't necessarily hindered the case, he said.
But it doesn't make the investigation any easier for Milledgeville police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Blue said some of the information online about the case hasn't been accurate. For example, some media outlets have reported that the accuser dropped out of school. However, Georgia College spokeswoman Judy Bailey confirmed to The Telegraph that as of Tuesday, the woman was still enrolled at the university.
"In the modern world we work in, there's technology," Blue said. "It's the environment we have to work in. ... I'm not concerned about (what is being reported). A lot of that information is not correct. If an officer says something (to the media), he's not involved with the case, and it's all speculation."
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