Pete Rose, whom the Phillies will induct into their Wall of Fame in less than two weeks, initiated and maintained a sexual relationship in the 1970s with a girl who at the time was not yet 16 years old, the woman said in a sworn statement filed in a federal court in Philadelphia Monday.
The testimony was included in filings that were part of Rose's defamation suit against John Dowd, whose 1989 investigation of Rose's gambling habits led to Rose's banishment from Major League Baseball. The woman, identified as "Jane Doe," testified that Rose contacted her in 1973, when she was "14 or 15 years old" and he was on his way to winning the National League's Most Valuable Player award with the Cincinnati Reds.
"I received a phone call from Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds," the woman testified. "Sometime after that, Pete Rose and I began meeting at a house in Cincinnati. It was at that house where, before my 16th birthday, Pete 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."
Despite the woman's allegations, Rose cannot face criminal charges in Ohio because the statute of limitations has run out.
In a written statement provided by Dowd's lawyers, Rose confirmed that he had sex with the woman but disputed details of her testimony. He said that their relationship didn't begin until 1975 and that, based on his "information and belief at the time," he thought she was already 16 years old. Rose turned 34 on April 14, 1975.
During a 2015 interview with WCHE in West Chester, Dowd said that Michael Bertolini, a longtime friend and associate of Rose's, told him that he not only ran bets for Rose, but frequently arranged meetings for Rose with girls who had not yet reached the age of consent. "Ages 12 to 14 — isn't that lovely?" Dowd said in the interview. "So that's statutory rape every time you do that. So he's just not the kind of person that I find very attractive. He's a street guy." Rose filed suit against Dowd last year in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
"We wanted to make sure we looked at all angles and all the options and that the law was on our side," Ray Genco, Rose's attorney, told the Cincinnati Enquirer last year. "This is not a fun case to bring as a plaintiff. But no matter what his transgressions in the past may have been, no matter what you may think of him in terms of the Baseball Hall of Fame debate, it's not open season to the point you can accuse him of being a pedophile."
Rose, whose 4,256 hits are the most in major-league history, played for the Phillies from 1979 through 1983 and was a key member of their 1980 World Series team. The club announced in April that he would be its 39th member of the Wall of Fame, joining Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn, and last year's inductee, Jim Thome, among others.
A Phillies spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
In 1989, former MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti placed a lifetime ban on Rose in the wake of Dowd's report, which determined that Rose had bet on games that he had managed for the Reds. Rose last applied for reinstatement in 2015 — a request that commissioner Manfred denied. He remains ineligible, too, for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.