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Roethlisberger loses bid to move trial
Friday, August 05, 2011

The Nevada Supreme Court decided Thursday that a civil lawsuit accusing Ben Roethlisberger of sexual assault will be tried in the county where it was originally filed.

The attorney for a woman who claimed Mr. Roethlisberger assaulted her at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2008 filed the original complaint in Reno, which sits in the district court of Washoe County, where another of the defendants owns a second home.

Mr. Roethlisberger filed a motion for a change of venue, asking that the case be moved to Douglas County -- home to the Harrah's hotel in Lake Tahoe, where the woman says the incident occurred.

The district court in Reno denied the change of venue, and Mr. Roethlisberger appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court citing as his reasons convenience and that none of the defendants actually reside in Washoe County.

The court heard no argument on the appeal, instead making its decision based solely on the record and briefs submitted. Instead of a three-judge panel, the entire court sat en banc.

The justices found that Mr. Roethlisberger did not have standing to appeal on residency for the other co-defendants. As for his argument on convenience, the court found that the difference in travel times to either Washoe or Douglas counties is minimal.

"And while Roethlisberger may receive a speedier trial in Douglas County, it is not an abuse of discretion for the district court to conclude that the ends of justice are adequately served by keeping venue in Washoe County and would not be furthered by a change of venue to Douglas County," the justices wrote.

The lawsuit was filed against Mr. Roethlisberger in August 2009. A 33-year-old woman who worked Harrah's Lake Tahoe as a VIP hostess accused him of sexually assaulting her in July 2008 during a celebrity golf tournament.

The suit also named eight Harrah's employees whom she accused of ignoring or hindering her attempts to have Mr. Roethlisberger held accountable.

Mr. Roethlisberger, who has repeatedly denied the allegations, has still not yet filed his original answer to the lawsuit. Instead, his attorneys have filed a number of motions, keeping the case in its very early stages.

Calvin R. X. Dunlap, who represents the alleged victim, said he is unsure when the case could get to trial. He expects Mr. Roethlisberger's attorneys will be filing additional motions.

Mr. Roethlisberger's attorney, William David Cornwell Sr., could not be reached late Thursday for comment.

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.
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First published on August 5, 2011 at 12:00 am