Pittsburgh Steelersquarterback Ben Roethlisberger apologized Monday night after learning he will not face any criminal charges after authorities said a 20-year-old woman who claimed he sexually assaulted her declined to act further.
The announcement capped weeks of speculation about Roethlisberger's fate -- and questions about his judgment -- after he was accused of attacking the Georgia college student in the bathroom of a nightclub in Milledgeville.
Roethlisberger said from the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room Monday night that the decision by the district attorney was "no doubt" correct -- and that he was sorry to fans and colleagues for the entire process.
"I'd like to begin by expressing gratitude to the thorough investigation process in Georgia," ESPN reported Roethlisberger said. "The prosecutor's decision not to bring charges, I know without a doubt, is the right conclusion. I don't intend to discuss any details related to the events of Georgia. I'm happy to put this behind me and move forward."
"I'm truly sorry for the disappointment and negative attention I brought to my family, my teammates, coaches, the Rooneys and the NFL," ESPN reported Roethlisberger said.
"I understand that the opportunities I have been blessed with are a privilege, and much is expected of me as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I absolutely want to be the leader this team deserves, valued in the community and a role model to kids. I have much work to do to earn this trust."
Roethlisberger said he is "excited to get back to work" and is "determined" to have a "great season."
District Attorney Fred Bright said there are still many questions about what happened that night, March 5th, but the accuser and her family told authorities they did not want to press charges. Bright said he could not bring a case against the athlete that would convince a jury "beyond a reasonable doubt."
"We are not condoning Mr. Roethlisberger's actions that night," Bright said. "But we do not prosecute morals. We prosecute crimes."
Bright said the investigation revealed that the woman was heavily intoxicated that night and that a doctor who examined the accuser could not determine if she was raped. He said some DNA was found but enough to determine who is belonged to.
Roethlisberger, 28, maintained his innocence throughout, although he did not submit to a second interview with authorities, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
The two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback has faced blistering criticism over the alleged incident, with many questioning why Roethlisberger would subject himself to any scrutiny in light of a pending civil lawsuit accusing him of rape.
A Las Vegas woman claims he raped her in 2008 at a hotel and casino in Lake Tahoe, an allegation he strongly denies.