By Mark Scolforo
Former baseball star Pete Rose on Wednesday sued the lawyer whose investigative report got him kicked out of baseball for gambling, alleging the lawyer defamed him last year by saying on the radio that Rose raped young teen girls during spring training.
Rose said in the federal lawsuit that John M. Dowd damaged his reputation and endorsement deals during a July 2015 interview on WCHE-AM in West Chester, Pa.
Dowd investigated Rose for Major League Baseball in 1989, leading the league’s all-time hits leader to be declared ineligible for the Hall of Fame.
The lawsuit states Dowd said during the radio appearance that Rose associate Michael Bertolini told investigators he “ran young girls” to Rose during spring training, which Dowd called “statutory rape every time.” Bertolini’s lawyers issued a categorical denial last summer.
“Rose never did any such thing and until the Dowd accusations, no one had ever claimed he did,” Rose’s lawyers wrote in the complaint. “What Dowd attributes to Bertolini is false: Bertolini states he never told Dowd any such thing.”
A man answering a phone listed for Dowd in Massachusetts did not identify himself, would not take a message and abruptly hung up on a reporter seeking comment.
A portion of Dowd’s 1989 report for Major League Baseball was headed, “Rose-Bertolini Betting.”
Rose, who lives in Las Vegas, had applied for reinstatement to the game last year and was about to appear at an All-Star Game in Cincinnati, where he coached and played, when Dowd said on Jim Rome’s radio show on June 23, 2015, that Rose “had Bertolini running young women down in Florida for his satisfaction,” the lawsuit said.
On July 13, Dowd was asked on WCHE-AM whether he found Rose to be a likable person.
“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 responded last year. “Isn’t that lovely? So that’s statutory rape every time you do that.”
Dowd subsequently told NJ.com that he did not want to discuss the Bertolini allegation any longer, saying it had been blown out of proportion.