Last year Pete Rose filed a defamation lawsuit against John Dowd, the attorney who authored the investigative report which got Rose banned from baseball for gambling back in 1989. The alleged defamation occurred when Dowd, in a 2015 radio interview, said that Rose’s book maker, a man named Michael Bertolini, “ran young girls for [Rose] down at spring training, ages 12 to 14,” adding “Isn’t that lovely. So that’s statutory rape every time you do that.”
Rose’s suit alleged that the comment was false and defamatory. Bertolini likewise denied the allegation. The suit has progressed for the last year, with each side conducting discovery and filing competing preliminary motions. Today one of those motions contained a sworn statement from a woman who claims that she and Rose had a sexual relationship back in the 1970s when she was under 16. The document, first reported by ESPN, and which was filed in federal court, can be read in its entirely below. The relevant allegation from the woman is set forth in the motion thusly:
In Ohio — where both the woman and Rose lived at the time — the age of legal consent is 16, so her allegation amounts to statutory rape. Rose acknowledges the sexual relationship but says he believed it started when she was 16. It’s worth noting, however, that in Ohio (and in 21 other states) a person’s belief that someone who has not reached the age of consent is, in fact, old enough to consent does not constitute a legal defense to a statutory rape charge.
Rose cannot be charged with a crime as a result of this sworn statement, as the statue of limitations has passed. Criminal charges or not, all of this should present serious difficulties for his lawsuit. And, if the sworn statement is not somehow comprehensively refuted, it’s hard to imagine how Rose’s current employer — Fox Sports — could defend keeping him on the payroll.
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