- Matt Winkeljohn
Pete Rose went 2-for-3 when a federal judge ruled that he can move forward with a defamation lawsuit against attorney John Dowd, author of the report that led to Major League Baseball’s all-time hit king being banned from the game.
Only one of three charges filed last year in Rose’s suit against Dowd was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker in U.S. District Court in Eastern Pennsylvania. Rose and attorneys can move forward in an attempt to take down Dowd, who currently is one of the private attorneys representing POTUS Donald Trump in the investigations of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
The lawsuit has nothing to do with the Dowd Report, which focused on the Western Hills High School graduate betting on MLB games while managing the Reds in the late 1980s.
Rose and his attorneys seek recompense from Dowd for comments he made a couple years ago on Philadelphia radio suggesting that Rose -- a former player for the Reds, Phillies and Montreal Expos -- was sexually deviant.
In 2015, Dowd was a guest on AM radio station WCHE when he said that Michael Bertolini, who was involved with Rose in betting on baseball games, “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.”
Bertolini has denied everything, including saying anything remotely about anything like this, to Dowd or anyone else, and judge Tucker Friday ordered that two of Rose’s three defamation claims can proceed. He also ruled that Rose failed to provide a plausible case that Dowd’s statements intentionally interfered with a contractual relationship Rose had with the shoe company Skechers to appear in TV ads.
Tucker concluded that Dowd's, “statutory rape allegation made during a 2015 radio interview was known to be false and malicious,” according to a report by Omnisport that appeared in the Sporting News. “Rose sufficiently pleads a claim for defamation per se under Pennsylvania law."
Rose, a 17-time All-Star and 1973 National League MVP, was recently honored by the Reds when a bronze statue of him was commissioned outside of Great American Ball Park. He holds holds several MLB records, including most hits in a career (4,256) after playing from 1963-’86.
His attorney, Ray Genco, applauded judge Tucker’s ruling.
“Dowd’s legal team did all they could to dismiss the causes of action that this case is all about — defamation and defamation per se — and they failed,” Genco wrote in an e-mail to the Philadelphia Inquirer/Philadelphia News. “The court dismissed our third cause of action — interference with contract — and that was to be expected. It was a long shot.”
On a side note, note the similarity between the philly.com photo seen above of Rose in a Phillies uniform and the statue of Rose in Cincinnati.