PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A woman said she had a sexual relationship with Pete Rose in the 1970s, starting when she was 14 or 15 years old, according to her sworn testimony submitted to a court Monday.
The testimony was presented by the defense as part of a federal lawsuit Rose filed last year in Philadelphia against a lawyer whose investigation got baseball’s all-time hits leader kicked out of Major League Baseball for gambling.
Rose contends John Dowd defamed him in 2015 by saying on the radio that the former baseball great had raped young teen girls during spring training. Rose, 76, has acknowledged having a relationship with the woman beginning when she was 16, the age of consent in Ohio.
Rose’s lawyer Ray Genco said the woman’s claims are unverified.
“At this point it’s just a big distraction,” Genco said. “It tips me off that (Dowd) really can’t defend himself.”
The attorney also accused Dowd of dragging “Pete’s name through the mud.”
Rose alleges in the lawsuit that Dowd damaged his reputation and endorsement deals during a July 2015 interview on WCHE-AM radio in West Chester.
Dowd investigated Rose in 1989 for gambling on the Cincinnati Reds while managing the team, a violation of baseball’s rules. Rose accepted a lifetime ban, and the Hall of Fame decided in 1991 that anyone on the permanently ineligible list could not appear on a Hall ballot.
Dowd said during the radio appearance that Rose associate Michael Bertolini told investigators he “ran young girls” to Rose during spring training, which Dowd called “statutory rape every time,” according to Rose’s lawsuit. Bertolini’s lawyers have denied that.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe in Monday’s filing, said Rose called her in 1973, when she was 14 or 15, and they began a sexual relationship in Cincinnati that lasted several years. She also alleges Rose met her in locations outside Ohio for sex.
Rose acknowledged in a statement accompanying Monday’s filing that he did have a relationship with the woman, but he said it started when she was 16. He also states they never had sex outside Ohio.
At the time, Rose was in his mid-30s and was married with two kids.
Dowd’s lawyer David Tobin said he couldn’t comment on the latest filing.
Rose, who lives in Las Vegas, had applied for reinstatement to the game in 2015. Not long after, Dowd was asked on WCHE-AM whether he found Rose to be a likable person.
“Michael Bertolini, you know, told us that he not only ran bets but he ran young girls for him down at spring training, ages 12 to 14,” Dowd responded. “Isn’t that lovely? So that’s statutory rape every time you do that.”
Genco said Rose knew what he was getting into when he filed the defamation lawsuit.
“He decided to take a stand against these heinous allegations,” he said. “We filed a winning case and it’s going to remain like that.”
Dowd, 76, is an experienced Washington attorney who is currently on President Donald Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation.