A U.S. District Court judge in Eastern Pennsylvania has dismissed two of three counts in Pete Rose’s defamation suit against John Dowd for claims Dowd made in 2015 that Rose had underage girls delivered to him at spring training and that he committed statutory rape.
Rose’s attorney told Outside the Lines that, overall, Friday was a victory because the case will proceed.
Dowd is the former special counsel to three Major League Baseball commissioners. Rose’s complaint, filed in July 6, 2016, cites a radio interview with a station in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in which Dowd said, “Michael Bertolini, you know, told us that he not only ran bets but ran young girls down at spring training, ages 12 to 14. Isn’t that lovely? So that’s statutory rape every time you do that.”
Bertolini was a memorabilia merchant whose taped conversations and other information about Rose’s gambling were central to Rose receiving a permanent ban from baseball in 1989.
The lawsuit also cites an interview with CBS Radio in which Dowd said, “He has Bertolini running young women down in Florida for his satisfaction, so you know he’s just not worthy of consideration or to be part of the game. This is not what we want to be in the game of baseball.”
Rose denied Dowd’s accusations. Bertolini has said he never made such claims. Former commissioner Fay Vincent, who was deputy commissioner at the time of Rose’s ban, has said that he did not remember such allegations.
At the time of the interviews in the summer of 2015, commissioner Rob Manfred was considering Rose’s request for reinstatement. Dowd had appeared on the shows to discuss that topic, and to talk about whether Rose — who is banned for gambling — should be eligible for the Hall of Fame.
Manfred ultimately denied Rose’s request.
According to the suit, “Ever since Dowd investigated Rose in 1989 and Rose was placed on the Ineligible List, Dowd actively sought to prevent Rose from ever being reinstated by MLB or elected to the Hall of Fame, and he ultimately made maliciously false and reckless claims against Rose.”