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July 31, 2017

Report: Pete Rose accused of statutory rape in newly filed court docs

An unidentified woman has alleged that she and baseball's all-time hit leader Pete Rose carried on a sexual relationship, one that began before she turned 16, for several years back in the 1970s, according to an ESPN report. In the state of Ohio, where both lived at the time, that's statutory rape – the age of consent, like much of the United States, is 16. 

The sworn statement was part of a motion filed Monday on behalf of John Dowd, the former MLB special counsel who investigated Rose for gambling on baseball while managing the Reds ultimately leading to his current lifetime ban. Dowd is defending himself in a defamation lawsuit filed by Rose after Dowd went on a West Chester, Pa. radio show in 2015 and claimed that his past investigation into Rose's gambling revealed that the former Reds and Phillies star "not only ran bets, but ran young girls down at spring training, ages 12 to 14." 

"Isn't that lovely?" Dowd sarcastically added.

According to those court documents filed by Dowd's team on Monday, Rose acknowledged having a relationship with the woman in question but said he was led to believe that she was already 16 when it began. Either way, legal consequences for Rose seem unlikely given the amount of time that has passed since the alleged crime.

Here's more from ESPN:

Rose acknowledged he had a sexual relationship with the woman in court documents made public Monday, but he said his information and belief was that it started when she was 16. He was 34, married and the father of two children in 1975, when he says he began having sex with the woman, referred to in the filing as "Jane Doe." Rose said he does not recall how long the relationship lasted.

The woman's account does not raise the prospect of a criminal charge for Rose, as it is well past Ohio's statute of limitations. She said they also had sex outside of Ohio when she was 16 or younger, but didn't specify the states, and Rose said their sexual relationship was confined to Ohio. In some states, such as Florida, the legal age of consent is 18.  []

This news comes just a few weeks before the Phillies are set to honor Rose, who was a key part of their 1980 World Series championship team, by doing something MLB has yet to embrace: enshrining him in their Hall of Fame (or in the Phils' case, their Wall of Fame).

No word yet on if this changes their plans, but this is not the first time Rose has been accused of such a thing, according to the report, the filing also includes references to a pair of journalists accusing Rose of having inappropriate (and illegal) relationships with underage women, one in a bio of Rose and the other in an ESPN documentary.

Ray Genco, one of Rose's attorneys, gave the following statement to ESPN's Outside the Lines on Monday via email: 

"John Dowd purposely made a defamatory statement that damaged Pete -- serial pedophilia consisting of the statutory rape of 12- to 14-year-olds during spring training. It is also false. And Judge Tucker just ruled that it constitutes defamation per se.

"Dowd can't defend his own actions here -- so he is distracting. It's just Dowd attacking Pete instead of defending his own inexplicable accusations on the radio the day before Pete was to be honored in Cincinnati at the All-Star Game. His litigation strategy is to further drag Pete's name through the mud. It's a witch hunt -- and won't be a successful litigation strategy."

As for Dowd's attorneys, they only offered this: "We'll let the filing speak for itself."

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