Today, thanks to the lawyer of the nightclub where Ben Roethlisberger allegedly sexually assaulted a woman, there was a lot of new information presented to the public discrediting the accuser in the case. Information that, if you examine the context of its release, looks increasingly dubious.
Carl Casino, the attorney for Georgia nightclub owner Rocky Duncan, recently told the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW that the nightclub’s security video from the evening in question has been erased and is irretrievable.
Cansino said he wished the nightclub could provide security video recordings, but the system it uses recorded over the footage, and agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation were unable to retrieve any evidence from recordings. No cameras were trained on the staff restroom near a dingy storage corridor where the assault allegedly occurred, he said.
“The DVD system overwrote itself,” Cansino said. “Had it just been deleted, they might have been able to save some of it.”
That claim though was called in to serious question by TMZ.com, which reported today that club owner Duncan previously told the website “repeatedly” that he had secured the tape’s contents and went so far as to describe what was seen on it.
TMZ has since added this to its post about the matter:
UPDATE: The lawyer for the club tells TMZ cops watched the video with Rocky “shortly” after the alleged incident — but cops did not take the video with them at that time.
The lawyer tells us cops returned to collect the tape — and that’s when they noticed the footage had been erased.
So from what the “cops” saw on the tape, we know they wanted it because they came back to get it. But when they returned, PRESTO GONZO!
Cansino told the Tribune-Review in the same interview that nightclub owner Duncan had saved “copies” of a “weeks-old” fake ID allegedly used by the accuser to enter the nightclub.
Cansino shared with investigators copies of the driver’s license Capital City’s bouncers seized from Roethlisberger’s accuser weeks before she was seen with him. The date on the license was scratched and reworked to indicate she was born in June 1987 — two years before her actual birth.
So nightclub owner Duncan saves a weeks-old fake ID of the accuser but not the surveillance tape of the incident? A videotape that obviously could be critical to the sexual assault claim of a 20-year-old woman who was reportedly drunk in Duncan’s establishment?
If you’re in nightclub owner Duncan’s shoes right now, what matters most to you in this case? Proving that your employees didn’t knowingly serve a 20-year-old woman - who claims she was sexually assaulted in your club - alcohol.
Cansino to the Tribune-Review:
“We believe that she obtained the alcohol from patrons, not from employees,” said Cansino, who said bouncers removed one member of the woman’s group from the VIP room that evening.
Is it unreasonable to think that a videotape that nightclub owner Duncan previously claimed to TMZ to have secured was deliberately erased to eliminate any evidence that could be used by local officials to injure Duncan’s business?
Also consider that it’s in the best interest of nightclub owner Duncan to discredit the accuser as much as possible. That’s a lot easier today if there’s no video showing your employees serving the underage accuser drinks.
Cansino also claimed to the Tribune-Review that the accuser had a .20 Blood Alcohol Level. How did he know that? Cansino said the “sources outside of law enforcement” told him:
Citing sources outside of law enforcement, Cansino said he learned the woman’s blood alcohol level was above 0.20 percent - more than 10 times the legal limit for drivers younger than 21 in Georgia and more than twice the limit for older motorists.
Knowing what we know now about the videotape debacle and the nightclub business Cansino is charged with protecting, is there a chance that Cansino might not be accurate in his claim?
Finally, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh reported today:
Sources close to the investigation say that investigators have had trouble re-interviewing the woman since the night of the incident.
Sources say the 20-year-old co-ed did not show up for a scheduled interview a week ago yesterday and that as of Friday she still had not come in to be questioned.
Those words from KDKA are parsed to come off as if the accuser blindsided investigators by blowing them off. Does that sound like the same behavior as a woman who immediately reported the sexual assault complaint to police, was promptly examined in a hospital to secure evidence and hired a lawyer in less than 48 hours?
And have authorities given any indication that she isn’t cooperating?
The KDKA story is also the first and only story that the accuser’s attorneys have publicly debunked. Press release today:
Recent misstatements in the media regarding our client’s cooperation
with the current investigation require us to make this statement. Our client is cooperating fully with law enforcement in this matter. Future interviews have been scheduled and our client will attend.
So how does all this noise affect Roethlisberger? Thanks to his admitting having sexual contact with the accuser and acknowledging her injuring herself in his presence, not much. In my opinion, there’s still a reasonable chance he could be charged with a crime.
This latest batch of news was clearly aimed at discrediting and discouraging the accuser, but thanks to what could be qualified as agenda-driven sources and the subsqueent statement from her attorneys, I don’t think it changed anything.