The Philadelphia Phillies announced Wednesday that Pete Rose won’t take part in the team’s Alumni Weekend festivities at Citizens Bank Park from Aug. 10-13 “due to recent events.” Rose had been voted by fans to be inducted into the team’s Wall of Fame.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported this week that a sworn statement by an unidentified woman, contained in a motion filed in John Dowd’s defense against Rose’s defamation lawsuit, alleges that Rose had a sexual relationship with the woman for several years in the 1970s, beginning before she turned 16.
“While I am truly honored that the Phillies fans voted for me to be this year’s Wall of Fame inductee, I am concerned that other matters will overshadow the goodwill associated with Alumni Weekend, and I agree with the decision not to participate.”
Dowd oversaw the investigation that led to Rose’s ban from baseball in 1989.
Rose acknowledged he had a sexual relationship with the woman in court documents made public Monday, but he said his information and belief was that it started when she was 16, which is the legal age of consent in Ohio. He was 34, married and the father of two children in 1975, when he says he began having sex with the woman, referred to in the filing as “Jane Doe.” Rose said he does not recall how long the relationship lasted.
The woman’s account does not raise the prospect of a criminal charge for Rose, as it is well past Ohio’s statute of limitations. She said they also had sex outside of Ohio when she was 16 or younger, but she didn’t specify the states, and Rose said their sexual relationship was confined to Ohio. In some states, such as Florida, the legal age of consent is 18.
“While I am truly honored that the Phillies fans voted for me to be this year’s Wall of Fame inductee, I am concerned that other matters will overshadow the goodwill associated with Alumni Weekend, and I agree with the decision not to participate,” Rose said in a statement.
The Phillies also said they will not give away a Rose bobblehead figure as planned on Aug. 11. The team said that fans who have tickets for that game or for the Aug. 12 game can exchange them for any remaining game on the 2017 schedule or choose to receive a refund.
Contacted by Outside the Lines on Monday, Ray Genco, one of Rose’s attorneys, said in an email: “John Dowd purposely made a defamatory statement that damaged Pete — serial pedophilia consisting of the statutory rape of 12- to 14-year-olds during spring training. It is also false. And Judge [Petrese] Tucker just ruled that it constitutes defamation per se.
“Dowd can’t defend his own actions here — so he is distracting. It’s just Dowd attacking Pete instead of defending his own inexplicable accusations on the radio the day before Pete was to be honored in Cincinnati at the All-Star Game [in 2015]. His litigation strategy is to further drag Pete’s name through the mud. It’s a witch hunt — and won’t be a successful litigation strategy.”
David Tobin, an attorney for Dowd, told Outside the Lines on Monday, “We’ll let the filing speak for itself.”
Rose made four All-Star appearances and helped the Phillies to one of their two world championships during his five seasons in Philadelphia from 1979 to ’83.
Rose was set to become the 39th inductee into the club’s Wall of Fame.
ESPN’s William Weinbaum and The Associated Press contributed to this report.