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Big Ben settles Lake Tahoe lawsuit

Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger waits out the final moments of the Steelers NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh,

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger waits out the final moments of the Steelers NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 8, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


In July 2009, not long after PFT joined forces with NBC, Rosenthal caught wind from a tipster of a possible lawsuit filed against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Nevada.

One thing led to another, and before long we had a copy of the civil complaint accusing Roethlisberger of raping a casino host at Harrah’s resort in Lake Tahoe. Roethlisberger allegedly lured the woman to his hotel room by claiming that his television needed to be fixed.

More than 30 months later, the case has been settled.

First reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal, neither side is talking about the settlement. Per the Associated Press, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Cal Dunlap said “the matter has been resolved.”

That’s common practice for the resolution of civil lawsuits. The formal document settling the claims routinely contains a confidentiality agreement, pursuant to which the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s lawyer agree that they will restrict any public or private comments to a simple statement that “the matter has been resolved.”

And so speculation will occur regarding the amount, if any, that Roethlisberger paid to make the case go away. In many cases, the defendant will agree to pay to the plaintiff the estimated amount of the cost of defending the case through trial. The formal settlement papers then will include a recognition that the payment does not reflect an admission of guilt or liability of any kind.

Roethlisberger seemed to concede in prior court papers that sexual activity occurred, but he at all times denied the allegation that the conduct was non-consensual. In the early stages of the litigation, email messages surfaced suggesting that the alleged victim was smitten with Roethlisberger and planned to pursue him. The case disappeared from view due to a procedural fight regarding whether it had been filed in the right Nevada county, and the matter later was eclipsed by sexual assault allegations made against Roethlisberger by a college student in Milledgeville, Georgia. Though Roethlisberger never was charged with any crime, the league suspended him for the first six games of the 2010 season. The suspension later was reduced to four games.