‘That was 55 years ago, babe’: Pete Rose under fire for response to questions about statutory rape allegations

Former Philadelphia Phillies player Pete Rose has been criticized for his response to a question about statutory rape claims against him.

Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader appeared on the field Sunday in Philadelphia for the first time since he was banned for life from the sport in 1989.

Mr. Rose, 81, was celebrated with the rest of the team that won the World Series in 1980. He received a standing ovation at Citizens Bank Park, according to CNN.

The Philadelphia Phillies had planned to celebrate Mr Rose back in 2017, but backed out after a woman came forward and claimed he had sex with her when she was under 16.

Alex Coffey from Philadelphia Inquirer asked Mr Rose about the allegations and whether his presence in the arena sent a bad message to women.

“No, I’m not here to talk about it,” said Mr. Rose. “Sorry about that. That was 55 years ago, babe.”

When another reporter also asked about the allegations made in 2017, he said: “I’ll tell you one more time. I’m here for the Philly fans. I’m here for my teammates, okay. I’m here for the Philly organization and who cares what happened 50 years ago? You weren’t even born. So you shouldn’t talk about it, because you weren’t born. If you don’t know anything about it, don’t talk about it”.

Former Philadelphia Phillies great Pete Rose acknowledges the crowd during the Alumni Day ceremony before the game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park

(USA TODAY Sports)

The allegations of abuse were included in a defamation lawsuit filed by Rose against the attorney who reviewed his Major League Baseball background regarding him betting on the sport in the 1980s.

The case against lawyer John Dowd was filed in 2017 for the allegation that Rose had sex with underage girls.

Legal documents reveal that Rose admitted to having sex with the girl, but that he claimed to have done so in 1975, when she was 16 years old, at a time when he was playing for the Cincinnati Reds. Following an agreement, the lawsuit was dismissed. The age of consent in the state of Ohio is 16.

A lawyer for Rose has claimed that the woman’s claims are unverified, according to CNN.

“Rose was made available after the ceremony. Someone, perhaps an agent, said he had something to say to me, but he didn’t seem to know he was expected to say anything,” Coffey wrote in The Inquirer. “He asked if he had offended me, and said ‘will you forgive me if I sign 1,000 baseballs for you’ before saying ‘sorry’.”

“In planning the 1980 reunion, we consulted with Pete’s teammates about his inclusion,” the Philadelphia Phillies said in a statement in July. “Everyone wants Pete to be part of the festivities as there would have been no trophy in 1980 without him. In addition, the club received permission from the commissioner’s office to invite Pete as a member of the championship.”

Mr Rose was banned in 1989 for betting on Cincinnati Reds games when he was a player and manager of the team and has been barred from entering the baseball hall of fame. He did not admit the allegations until 2004.

He later told ESPN Radio that he bet his team to win every game.

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