Catcher accused by woman he met at bar

Updated: August 29, 2003, 9:42 AM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Florida Marlins backup catcher Ramon Castro was arrested and jailed on a charge of rape Thursday after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in his hotel room, officials said.

Castro, 27, was taken to the Allegheny County Jail late Thursday. He also was being held on charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault and unlawful restraint.

Pittsburgh police Lt. Kevin Kraus said a 28-year-old woman, who was not identified by authorities, went to a hospital early Thursday morning and reported she had been raped a couple hours earlier. A hospital worker called police at 5:42 a.m.

The woman was treated and released for what Kraus described as minor injuries.

Kraus said the woman met Castro at a bar in Pittsburgh's Strip District and went with him to the nearby Westin Convention Center Hotel downtown, where Castro was staying during the Marlins' three-game series against the Pirates.

Another couple went with the woman and Castro back to the hotel, police said.

According to Kraus, the woman alleged the assault took place in Castro's room after the other couple left.

Kraus said police intend to conduct additional interviews but declined to say with whom.

J. Alan Johnson, a former U.S. Attorney representing Castro, said the ballplayer was innocent.

"It is difficult today to be a professional athlete. It's difficult when you're charged with this for anyone, but especially difficult if you are a professional athlete," Johnson said.

Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Maurita Bryant defended the investigation, saying police treated it no differently than other rape cases.

The Marlins' series against the Pirates concluded Thursday night at PNC Park, but Castro was not in the lineup. He did not play in the Pirates' 4-0 win Wednesday night.

The Marlins left Pittsburgh Thursday night to begin a four-game home series against Montreal.

Marlins All-Star pitcher Dontrelle Willis said he doubted the charges against Castro were true.

"He is a good guy. I'm not believing it," Willis said.

The Marlins' player representative, reliever Braden Looper, said he hadn't heard about the allegations until he arrived at the ballpark.

"I don't think anybody in here really knows what is going on, so I don't want to speculate. We hope the best for him and hope everything is OK," Looper said.

Castro is batting .289 in 45 at-bats in 33 games. He made his major league debut with Houston in 1999.

Castro is married and has two daughters.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press