Ben Roethlisberger is a great football player but, as a human being, not so much.
As the SFGate recently pointed out, he’s been accused but not prosecuted for (among other things) raping two different women on separate occasions.
For whatever reason, Lori Montgomery, the business editor of the Washington Post, responded in a tweet that claims the retiring NFL great was a rapist are “easily disproven” and “completely FoS.”
Montgomery was given a verbal warning for the tweet by Post Executive Editor Sally Buzbee after a WP reporter asked whether employees at the newspaper would feel safe reporting harassment to editors who make similar comments.
In truth, there is considerable evidence of sexual misconduct by Roethlisberger.
In 2010, a 20-year-old college student accused him of raping her inside the woman’s restroom of the Capital City nightclub in Milledgeville, GA, after plying her with liquor. According to news reports, friends of the woman tried to intervene but said they were blocked by Roethlisberger’s bodyguards. The alleged victim was later treated at an emergency room for head lacerations and genital bleeding. Roethlisberger said she slipped and fell in the restroom. Authorities declined to prosecute.
That same year, SFGate reports that another woman came forward and told Sports Illustrated that Roethlisberger raped her after he called her up to his Lake Tahoe hotel room to have her fix his television. When she reported the assault to her boss, her boss threatened to fire her. Again, Roethlisberger wasn’t prosecuted, though he settled a lawsuit filed by the alleged victim in 2011.
The fact that Roethlisberger wasn’t convicted of sexual assault doesn’t make him “innocent.” It could just signify a time in America when rape claims were typically disbelieved and dismissed, especially if a woman was intoxicated or held low status in society.
Since the “me too” movement, one would like to think that prejudice against rape victims is dissipating. But Montgomerey’s tweet makes you wonder.
The WP reporter who criticized Montgomery’s tweet is Felicia Sonmez, who sued the WP and several of its top editors (including Montgomery) last year, alleging the Post unfairly prevented her from covering stories related to sexual harassment and assault because they believed she had a conflict of interest as a sexual assault survivor.
At the Post, it seems, it is disqualifying to report on sexual harassment and assault if you have endured it but not so if you are a top editor who simply dismisses it out of hand.