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Phillies cancel Pete Rose celebration in wake of statutory rape allegations

Pete-Rose.jpgIn the wake of serious allegations of statutory rape against Pete Rose, the Phillies have decided to remove the former Phillie from Alumni Weekend festivities, which this year were designed to honor Rose with enshrinement in the club’s Wall of Fame.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Phillies said that the weekend would proceed with an event Saturday that “will pay tribute to former Wall of Fame inductees during a pre-game ceremony.” The Rose bobblehead will not be distributed Friday evening. All fans on Sunday will receive a Wall of Fame card pack.

Fans can also exchange tickets for Friday and Saturday’s games for another game later in the season.

Rose is alleged in court documents to have had a sexual relationship more than 40 years ago with a girl who was younger than 16, which would qualify as statutory rape. Rose has claimed the girl was the legal age of 16 when he started the relationship (he admitted to the relationship); either way, Rose can’t be charged with anything, as the statute of limitations in Ohio has run out on these allegations.

Commentary: The right decision

As for the Phillies, to this writer: they made the right move.

Let’s be clear: Rose’s behavior was despicable. Regardless of whatever the girl said or felt at the time of the relationship, Rose was 34 and married and having sexual relations with another person. More, a teenager, allegedly younger than 16. Are some teens smarter than others? Of course. Are some more developed than others? Sure. But there’s a reason adults prey on children: they’re certain they can manipulate them to do what pleases them.

Some may argue that “times were different then” and “things were much looser.” That doesn’t change the fact that this middle-aged man, this adult with children of his own (a daughter about the same age as the unidentified woman) opted to seek pleasure from a teenager. Times are different now, mostly because we now have better systems designed to stop and catch predators before they inflict damage. It’s not perfect – plenty of children are still affected by predatory behavior today. Psychologically they can be scarred for life. Their future relationships can be strained, uneasy and broken. And all because some adult decided that his pleasure was more important at the moment. That’s the kind of behavior represented by Pete Rose, a man who had money, fame and the ability to use his platform to progress his aims. His behavior was despicable.

The evidence mounts to this day that Rose thought about himself first, foremost and only. The betting scandals revealed a man hellbent on scoring for himself while allegedly, as John Dowd claims, shoving his own team aside. Sure the guy hustled when he played ball, and for that we have videotape memories to cherish, but Rose played life as his own personal hustle, and we’ve been using those memories to whitewash the likelihood that he didn’t give a damn about teenage girls, his own teams and you.

Betting against his team didn’t directly hurt anybody, but having a sexual relationship with a teenager produces an effect that’ll last long after he’s forgotten by time. And that’s why the Phillies were right to have canceled the ceremonies. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed. The only thing that matters is that if the Phils went along with this, they would’ve been honoring a guy who knowingly took advantage of a teenage girl for his own personal pleasure. Moreover, they would’ve been telling every victim of rape, abuse, violation and manipulation that any scars, any nightmares, any trauma that they have felt, are feeling and will feel means nothing because this guy hit the baseball and bowled over catchers. Finally, they would’ve been telling every young girl – and boy – that their welfare can take a backseat to a game.

Thankfully, the Phillies aren’t in that position now.

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