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Woman says she had sexual relationship with Pete Rose as an underage teen

Pete Rose signs autographs at an event on Dec. 14, 2015, in Las Vegas. (John Locher/AP)

A woman says she had a sexual relationship with baseball legend Pete Rose that began in 1973 when she was 14 or 15 years old and continued for several years, according to federal court documents filed Monday.

In response, Rose acknowledged that he had sex with the woman, who was not identified, but said he believed she was 16 at the time, old enough to legally consent in Ohio.

The woman’s account was submitted by defense attorneys in a defamation lawsuit Rose filed last year against John Dowd, a well-known Washington lawyer who said in a 2015 radio interview that Rose had committed statutory rape by routinely having sex with underage girls during his baseball career. The lawsuit is underway in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Dowd led a 1989 investigation for Major League Baseball that found Rose had gambled on games as a player and manager for the Cincinnati Reds. As a result of the investigation, Rose was banned from the MLB for life.

Attorneys for Dowd, attempting to show his on-air remarks about Rose were essentially true, submitted a sworn statement from a woman referred to in court filings as Jane Doe.

The woman said her relationship with Rose started with a phone call from the baseball player in 1973 when she was “14 or 15 years old.”

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

“This sexual relationship lasted for several years,” she said. “Pete Rose also met me in locations outside of Ohio where we had sex.”

The age of consent in Ohio is 16, but it is 17 or 18 in other states.

Rose said in the filings that he had vaginal sex with the woman but that “based upon my information and belief at that time, she was sixteen.” He said that the relationship “began sometime in 1975” and that their encounters took place exclusively in the Cincinnati region. He answered “I do not recall” in response to a number of other questions, including how they first met, who introduced them and how often they had sex.

Rose was 34 years old in 1975 and was married with two children. He won the World Series MVP award that year and was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

In the filings, Dowd’s attorneys asked Rose to identify every person under age 18 he had ever had sex with, saying while the age of consent was 16 in Ohio, it was older in other states where Rose traveled each year. Rose refused, saying the request was too broad.

Dowd’s attorneys also brought up public accounts about what they called Rose’s “sexual indiscretions,” including excerpts from a 1997 biography that said Rose “flaunted his affairs openly,” even in front of his family.

An attorney for Rose, Ray Genco, accused Dowd of dragging “Pete’s name through the mud” in a statement to the Associated Press on Monday.

“At this point it’s just a big distraction,” Genco said. “It tips me off that [Dowd] really can’t defend himself.”

Rose, 76, spent more than two decades in the major leagues and holds several baseball records, including the most career hits. In 1989, the MLB commissioner tapped Dowd to look into allegations that Rose had gambled on games while playing for and managing the Reds. Dowd’s investigation, documented in the “Dowd Report,” concluded that he had, in violation of MLB rules. That year, Rose was made permanently ineligible for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

"This is an honor that you just can't believe," says Pete Rose, was inducted into the 2016 Reds Hall of Fame. (Video: Reuters)

Dowd, also 76, is a seasoned defense lawyer and former Department of Justice attorney. In June, President Trump hired him to help handle the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Rose’s lawsuit stems from a July 2015 interview Dowd gave on WCHE-AM radio in West Chester, Pa., that touched on Rose’s requests to be reinstated with the MLB. During the interview, Dowd said that a longtime associate of Rose named Michael Bertolini had told him that Rose liked to have sex with underage girls.

“Michael Bertolini, you know, told us that he not only ran bets but he ran young girls for him down at spring training, ages 12 to 14,” Dowd said. “Isn’t that lovely? So that’s statutory rape every time you do that.”

In court papers, Rose said he never committed statutory rape and called Dowd’s statements “entirely false in every respect.”

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