Pete Rose’s attorney in his defamation lawsuit against John Dowd said Rose's team is dropping a contention that Dowd’s allegation of statutory rape resulted in two companies dropping endorsement deals, according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
If true, the woman's account could support Dowd's claim he was told Rose committed "statutory rape" when he was a player. That claim is the focus of Rose's lawsuit.
In his suit, Rose alleges he lost more than $300,000 after Sketchers and Ducere Pharma declined to extend deals with Rose two years ago. But executives from both companies denied the allegations had anything to do with their decisions on Rose, according to court documents obtained by Outside the Lines.
Dowd, whose Dowd Report led to Rose's banishment from baseball in 1989, claimed Michael Bertolini, who booked Rose's bets and sold Rose memorabilia, told baseball investigators that year Rose had committed "statutory rape" with girls as young as 12 during spring training.
Dowd made his accusation against Rose on WCHE Radio in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on July 13, 2015:
"Michael Bertolini told us that not only did he run bets, but he ran young girls for (Rose) down in spring training," Dowd said on WCHE. "Ages 12-14. Isn't that lovely? So that's statutory rape every time you do that."
Bertolini's attorney denied his client ever told Dowd that. Rose vehemently denied the accusation and sued for defamation.
Joseph Johnson, one of Rose’s lawyers, told Outside the Lines that a jury is entitled to look at what the suit calls “false and malicious” allegations that caused damage to Rose’s reputation.
Dowd’s attorney, David Tobin, did not give ESPN a comment.
Since the underage sex allegation, the Philadelphia Phillies canceled plans to induct Rose into their Wall of Fame in an on-field ceremony, and Fox Sports announced Rose was out of its lineup earlier this month.
WCPO Web Editor Joe Rosemeyer contributed to this report.