Pete Rose had sexual relationship with underage girl in the 1970s, court doc says

Pete Rose is accused of having a sexual relationship with a woman under 16 years old in new court filings. (AP)
Pete Rose is accused of having a sexual relationship with a woman under 16 years old in new court filings. (AP)

Another controversy has found Pete Rose, baseball’s embattled hit king. According to a sworn statement filed in a Pennsylvania court Monday by an unidentified woman, Rose maintained a sexual relationship with her in the 1970s when she says she was under the age of 16.

They both lived in Ohio at the time, where 16 is the age of consent. If true — Rose admits the relationship but says she was older than 16 — Rose wouldn’t face criminal charges for statutory rape because the statute of limitations has expired. The revelation is part of another legal battle: Rose vs. John Dowd, the special counsel who oversaw MLB’s investigation into Rose in the late 80s.

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Rose is currently suing Dowd for defamation and the statement about Rose’s relationship with this girl was presented in Dowd’s defense. Here’s more on the statement, via ESPN’s William Weinbaum:

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.

The origin of this legal battle is a 2015 radio interview in which Dowd claimed that Rose had memorabilia dealer Michael Bertolini bring him 12- to 14-year-old girls at spring training in the ’70s. Dowd then said Rose committed statutory rape with them.

Rose sued Dowd for defamation, with his legal team saying the claim is “entirely false in every respect.”

Bertolini also provided key evidence in Dowd’s investigation into Rose’s gambling, as it was Bertolini notebook that detailed Rose’s bets. His taped were conversations were the primary evidence that led to Rose’s ban from baseball.

On Monday, one of Rose’s lawyers, Ray Genco, told ESPN:

“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.”

Rose, now 76, currently works as a baseball analyst for Fox Sports. His most recent appeal for reinstatement was denied by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in 2015.

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!