Pete Rose Accused of Sex With Minor Under 16 Years Old

By: Matt Alberston, Historical Columnist

One of the most controversial figures in baseball is amid even more controversy, less than two weeks before he is prospectively inducted into the Philadelphia Phillies Wall of Fame.

According to a statement filed in federal court in Philadelphia on Monday, Rose initiated and maintained a sexual relationship in the 1970s with a girl who was not yet 16 years old. 

The story begins when, in 2015, Rose claimed during an interview on WCHE-AM (West Chester) that John Dowd, the lawyer who investigated Rose’s gambling habits in 1989, falsely accused him of having sex with a girl younger than 16. Dowd’s claim is based on what he said one of Rose’s associates told him, according to the federal defamation lawsuit, available here. Dowd stated that Michael Bertolini, who was involved with Rose’s gambling on baseball games, “told us that he not only ran bets but he ran young girls for him down at spring training, ages 12 to 14…” Dowd made a similar claim weeks earlier with sports radio talk host Jim Rome. 

Rose filed defamation claims in 2016, and it was announced earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker that the claims may proceed. The court dismissed the claim that Dowd’s statements interfered with Rose’s contract with the shoe company Skechers. Rose claimed that Dowd’s statements were false, asserting that he never had sex with the minor when she was younger than 16 and that Dowd knew this when he made his accusations on the radio. 

The woman in question in this case, known simply as Jane Doe, attested in a Declaration that Rose had sex with her before she turned 16. 

In 1973, when I was 14 or 15 years old, I received a phone call from Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds.

Sometime after that, Pete Rose and I began meeting at a house in Cincinnati. It was at that house where, before my sixteenth birthday, Pet Rose began a sexual relationship with me.

This sexual relationship lasted for several years.

Pete Rose also met me in locations outside of Ohio where we had sex.

Dowd served Rose with repeated requests of admission, which Rose never responded to. Rose did admit to having a sexual relationship with Doe, sometime in 1975, when Doe would have been 16. Ohio does not hold it a crime for a person of Rose’s then age, 33 or 34, to have sex with a 16-year-old; 12 other states have done so. The statute of limitations on this case has passed and therefore Rose will not face any criminal charges in this case. 

At the current time, the Phillies have yet to make an announcement as to whether or not this lawsuit will alter Rose’s induction into the club’s Wall of Fame on August 12.