Eaton & Van Winkle partners Martin Garbus & Joe Johnson are representing former major league baseball great Pete Rose in his defamation lawsuit against John Dowd, who oversaw the 1989 investigation that resulted in Rose’s being banned from baseball.
This complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania, deals with Dowd’s recent claims that Rose committed statutory rape with underage girls when he was at spring training.
Dowd gave an interview last summer in which he said “Michael Bertolini (a memorabilia merchant whose testimony regarding Rose’s gambling was crucial to Dowd’s 1989 investigation)…told us that he not only ran bets but ran young girls down at spring training…ages 12 to 14. Isn’t that lovely?…”
Bertolini says he never told Dowd any such thing. Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent, the deputy commissioner in 1989, did not remember such allegations. And Rose himself strongly denies it.
It’s been 27 years since Rose was banned from baseball, but controversy over the punishment has not diminished. How this lawsuit plays out will likely impact public perception of MLB, Rose and the ongoing dispute over whether baseball’s all-time hits leader should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.