A lawsuit accusing a former U.S. Major League Baseball scout of demanding sexual favors from foreign players in return for a chance to play for the team will proceed in the United States and not the Dominican Republic, a federal appeals court ruled.
The decision to keep the case in the United States reverses an Aug. 1998 decision by a federal district court, which dismissed the case on grounds that the Dominican Republic would be a better forum.
Thirteen Dominican players accuse former San Francisco Giants scout Luis Rosa, 54, of demanding sexual favors from them, and then cutting them from a farm team when they refused to comply.
Rosa has denied the accusations and said the players were cut because they didn't have enough talent.
In his court opinion Wednesday, Judge William A. Fletcher said the case should proceed in this country because the United States is "a forum with a substantial relation to the action."
Additionally, Fletcher wrote that there appeared to be no guarantee that Rosa would show up in court if proceedings took place in the Dominican Republic.
"Plaintiffs produced affidavits from two people who recount that Rosa told them he did not plan to return to the Dominican Republic where he faces possible imprisonment," Fletcher wrote.
Rosa had agreed to appear in any Dominican proceedings, but the district court had not made their dismissal of the case contingent upon his participation, the judge said.
According to the lawsuit filed in April 1998, the 13 players said Rosa subjected them to "sexual jokes, comments and inquiries" and "sexual advances to which the penalty of refusal was suspension or termination."
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, also alleges that Giants management knew about Rosa's behavior and, in failing to fire him, became legally responsible for his actions.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, Giants vice president and general counsel Jack Bair issued a statement saying the Giants have a "strong policy prohibiting sexual harassment" and that anyone who engages in it may be fired.
Rosa said he was the victim of an extortion attempt by players, noting that three other players who originally intended sue Rosa for sexual harassment later admitted they had lied.
Rosa, a native of Puerto Rico who spent 21 years in Latin America working for several major league teams, recruited players such as Roberto and Sandy Alomar, Juan Gonzalez and Sammy Sosa.
The Giants placed Rosa on unpaid administrative leave in 1997 and he resigned shortly after.
Nancy Pritikin, a lawyer for the Giants, said Wednesday that she and her colleagues hadn't fully reviewed Wednesday's decision.
"However, we're confident that the U.S. District court acted appropriately in dismissing the case," she said. "We will seek further review and reconsideration of the Ninth Circuit Court opinion."
Phone calls requesting comment from the Dominican players' lawyers were not immediately returned Wednesday.
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