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Man accused of attempting to extort former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward

Brookline, Pa., resident allegedly demanded $15,000 from Ward or he would release materials alleging the former Steelers player paid a woman for sex.

Jared Wickerham

The Post-Gazette reported a criminal complaint was filed in Allegheny County court that Joshua Van Aucker, 26, allegedly sent a text message to the personal assistant of former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward demanding $15,000, or he would release documentation proving Ward engaged in paying a woman for sex.

The report indicates Ward's assistant, Raymond Burgess, Jr., contacted authorities upon receiving the text message, because he thought Van Auker was trying to extort Ward because Van Auker believed that his girlfriend "had been involved in a prior physical relationship with Ward," according to the complaint.

The report mentions Van Auker was taken into custody when detectives arranged a meeting with him in Sewickley and he took an envelope with $15,000 in it.

It brings up memories of when a woman accused former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis of sexual misconduct, a plot created by the woman's uncle to extort money from Bettis. Charges were never filed against Bettis.

Needless to say, it's unlikely if any alleged documentation Van Aucker may (or may not) have will ever be released publicly. While paying for sex is obviously a crime, extortion is a more serious charge. Professional athletes are targets of things of this nature frequently, and there's little doubt Ward haters will immediately convict him, charges of extortion against his accuser be damned. It just goes to show the difficulties of living in the public eye.