Report: Pete Rose accused of statutory rape in court document

A sworn statement by an unidentified woman alleges that Hit King and former Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose had a sexual relationship with her for several years in the 1970s that started before she turned 16, according to a report from ESPN.com's William Weinbaum.

The statement is part of a motion, according to the report, filed Monday in John Dowd's defense against Pete Rose's defamation lawsuit.

A federal judge ruled that Rose could move forward with a defamation lawsuit against Dowd. At the time, Rose's lawyer reportedly called the ruling "a big win."

More from Weinbaum:

In the majority of states, including Ohio -- where both the woman and Rose lived at the time -- the age of legal consent is 16, so her allegation amounts to statutory rape.

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. 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's well past Ohio's statute of limitations. She said they had sex outside of Ohio when she was 16 or younger, but didn't specify the states, and Rose said their sexual relationship was confined to Ohio. In some states, such as Florida, the legal consent age is 18.

Rose filed the suit following remarks Dowd made on a Philadelphia radio show in 2015 suggesting Rose may have committed statutory rape with minors.

Rose's lawyer, Ray Genco, told The Enquirer in 2016 that Rose is targeting only Dowd with the suit, and not the radio station nor "publishers with deep pockets."

Dowd, who led the 1989 investigation into Rose's gambling that resulted in his banishment from baseball, said on the radio station that Rose had sex with underage girls.

“Michael Bertolini told us that not only did he run bets, but he ran young girls for him down in spring training. Ages 12-14,” Dowd said on WCHE 1520 AM in an interview on July 13, 2015, referring to a longtime Rose associate. “Isn't that lovely? So that's statutory rape every time you do that. So he's just not the kind of person that I find very attractive. He's a street guy.”

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