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July 25, 2016

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Caesars fires back at Ben Roethlisberger accuser

Woman’s lawsuit claims company failed to investigate alleged assault

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Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throws a football to a fan on the 17th hole during the American Century Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nev., on Saturday, July 18, 2009.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. of Las Vegas is fighting back in a lawsuit filed by Andrea McNulty, the former Lake Tahoe casino host who claims she was sexually assaulted by NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

McNulty's 2009 lawsuit against Roethlisberger is pending in state court for Washoe County in Reno. The Nevada Supreme Court is deciding whether the case should be moved to Douglas County.

McNulty also sued Caesars, then known as Harrah's Entertainment Inc., in state court in Reno in July of this year.

The suit against Caesars, which Caesars moved to U.S. District Court for Nevada, asserts claims against the gaming company including wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy and defamation.

McNulty alleges in the lawsuit that after she was assaulted by Roethlisberger at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, a Caesars Entertainment resort in Douglas County, in July 2008, she reported the incident to the hotel security chief but was told she was "over reacting" and that "most girls would feel lucky to get to have sex with someone like Ben Roethlisberger."

The suit claims Harrah's Lake Tahoe officials and corporate officials in Las Vegas failed to investigate the incident and that after she had a nervous breakdown over the incident, she was hospitalized and took medical leave before returning to work.

McNulty claims in the suit that Caesars officials covered up the alleged assault in part because Roethlisberger was a friend of Harrah's Lake Tahoe President John Koster; and that Caesars officials retaliated against her "through character assassination" and ultimately forced her out of the company in November 2009.

While the lawsuit says McNulty voluntarily resigned, she also alleges in her lawsuit "tortious discharge in violation of public policy" against Caesars.

"Defendants' conduct, in creating a hostile work environment in which plaintiff could not be expected to remain and in thereby constructively discharging plaintiff, acted with the intent to punish and retaliate against plaintiff for having exercised her legal rights to seek redress for the sexual assault ... and for the ensuing cover up engaged in by the defendants," the lawsuit charges.

Harrah's Lake Tahoe officials are also accused of making false and defamatory statements about McNulty including "sexual promiscuity" and "sexual misconduct."

In answering the lawsuit and denying the allegations this month, attorneys for Caesars offered defenses including "unclean hands" -- legalese for the assertion that McNulty, rather than Caesars, committed wrongdoing.

"Plaintiff's damages, which damages are denied, were caused by the contributory negligence of plaintiff in greater part than any negligence by defendants, which negligence is denied," Caesars' attorneys wrote in their response.

Caesars' attorneys also argued many of the assertions in the suit appeared to be speculation, hearsay or "more suited for inclusion in a low-grade novel rather than a legal document."

Caesars' attorneys said part of McNulty's lawsuit describing events leading up to her resignation appears "to be nothing more than a melodrama disguised as a legal pleading, with plaintiff as the heroine and defendants and/or their employees as the villains."

It's unclear when or if the federal lawsuit against Caesars will proceed to trial as McNulty's attorneys are trying to move it back to state court.

Like Caesars, Roethlisberger has denied the allegations made against him by McNulty. Roethlisberger's attorneys noted no police complaint was filed. And they produced witnesses who said McNulty had bragged about having sex with the Pittsburgh Steelers star -- assertions denied by McNulty.

At one point McNulty offered to drop her suit against Roethlisberger if he would apologize and donate $100,000 to a group helping abused women -- an offer declined by Roethlisberger.

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