Pete Rose Says Lawyer Nemesis Defamed Him

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) — Pete Rose has sued John Dowd, whose report led to Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball, claiming Dowd defamed him in a radio interview, accusing Rose of sleeping with underage girls and betting against the Cincinnati Reds.
     Rose, baseball’s all-time hit leader, sued Dowd on Wednesday in Federal Court.
     Dowd, retired from his longtime job as an attorney with Akin, Gump, Hauer and Feld, wrote the Dowd Report, a 225-page document that chronicled Rose’s gambling on baseball — and on the Reds — while he was the team’s player-manager.
     Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti used the report as the basis for issuing a lifetime ban against Rose, prohibiting him from working in baseball and from being elected to the Hall of Fame.
     Rose has applied several times for reinstatement to baseball. Each time his application has been denied and each time Dowd has openly advocated to keep the ban in place, according to the lawsuit.
     Rose claims Dowd accused him of statutorily raping 12- and 14-year-old girls, during a July 13, 2015 radio interview on WCHE-AM in Philadelphia.
     “During it, Dowd was asked: ‘If Pete Rose and you were in a room, and gambling wasn’t the topic and this had nothing to do with anything else, do you find Pete a likeable person? Not a likeable person? Do you see the window inside his soul and forget about all this?’ Dowd stated:
     “‘No. I’ve been asked that question — whether he had any moral bearings at all. And the answer is no. You know, there is a lot of other activity. He constantly violated the concept of laws. 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. Isn’t that lovely. So that’s statutory rape every time you do that. So, he’s not … he’s just not, you know, the kind of person that I find very attractive. He’s a street guy,'” the complaint states.
     Rose’s attorney, August J. Ober IV, told Courthouse News that was the first time Rose had heard any such allegations. Rose vehemently denies the allegations and has never been charged or, to his knowledge, investigated for those allegations.
     Rose claims Dowd’s statements were republished and followed by other reports. Rose said Dowd tried to back away from the accusations when pressed by Randy Miller, a reporter for NJ Advance Media for NJ.com.
     “On August 7, 2015, Miller spoke with Dowd about his accusations of statutory rape and Rose’s denial,” the complaint states. “Dowd reportedly told Miller: ‘I have nothing further to say on it;’ ‘I just don’t want to discuss it anymore; I think this was blown out of proportion.’ When Miller reminded him that he was the one to make the accusations (of statutory rape), and that they were serious, he reportedly agreed, stating: ‘They are. You ought to go talk to Michael Bertolini about them. He’s the one that made them.'” (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Bertolini, who was a Rose gambling contact and a prominent figure in the Dowd Report, also categorically denied Dowd’s allegations of statutory rape, according to the complaint.
     “Rose and his lawyer met with MLB executives on or about September 24, 2015, including Commissioner (Robert) Manfred and John McHale Jr. to discuss Rose’s request for reinstatement,” the lawsuit states. “During the meeting, the subject of Dowd’s accusation of statutory rape by Rose with young teens was discussed. Rose once again vehemently denied the accusations to Commissioner Manfred and Mr. McHale.
     “In December 2015, Commissioner Manfred rejected Rose’s request for reinstatement.”
     The Dowd Report specifically states that there was no evidence that Rose bet against the Reds.
     Rose claims Dowd made other defamatory statements, including that he bet against the Reds, though there is no evidence to support that statement.
     Dowd told ESPN he had no comment on the lawsuit.
     Rose seeks punitive damages for defamation and tortious interference with an existing or prospective contractual relationship.
     Rose has a record 4,256 career hits in Major League Baseball. Known as Charlie Hustle, for running hard to first base on a walk, he has said that when he entered pro baseball, he wanted to be the first singles hitter to make $100,000 a year.
     He was a key player for the Reds from 1963 to 1978 and the Phillies from 1979 to 1983. He returned to the Reds as player-manager in 1985 and 1986 before retiring from the field. He continued managing the Reds until 1989.
     Rose has been of a part of nine division titles, five pennants and three World Series champions. He was a 17-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, won three batting titles, a Gold Glove and was a National League and a World Series MVP. Had it not been for the gambling ban, Rose would be in baseball’s Hall of Fame.
     Rose continues to be controversial. Recently, when Miami’s Ichiro Suzuki surpassed Rose’s career hit total, Rose made headlines by saying he believed he was still the hit king because 1,278 of Suzuki’s hits came in Japanese pro leagues, not in Major League Baseball.

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