Ex-Rangers pitcher John Wetteland says he’s been the victim of lies over abuse allegations

DENTON — Texas Rangers Hall of Famer John Wetteland told a Denton County jury on Thursday that the sexual abuse charges against him were unbelievable and said he was the victim of lies orchestrated by the accuser’s father-in-law.

Wetteland pleaded with jurors for more than two hours to find him not guilty in their deliberations, which will likely begin on Friday. The 56-year-old is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison.

Jean-Karl Wetteland(Denton County Sheriff’s Office)

A parent accused Wetteland of forcing him to perform a sex act three times between 2004 and 2006, starting when the child was 4 years old. The accuser said the abuse happened in the shower in the main bathroom at Wetteland’s home in Bartonville, about 10 miles south of Denton.

Wetteland’s lawyers portrayed the accuser as a theatrical “spoiled brat” manipulated by his stepfather into making false allegations.

The parent “is an easy target for a predator like him,” Wetteland said, referring to the stepfather.

Wetteland said the accuser, who is now 22 and lives out of state, was a “nice kid” but became “austere” under the influence of his stepfather.

On the stand, Wetteland – and others who testified earlier this week – called his family “all American,” prosecutor Lindsey Sheguit said in cross-examination. Wetteland, who played professional baseball and then coached, was away for long periods; when he returned, he and the parent clung to each other. A witness described the relative as the ‘shadow’ of Wetteland.

But the former pitcher was also out for stints in rehab. Outside of jury attendance, prosecutors said, he suffered from addictions to sex, alcohol, drugs and prescription drugs. State District Judge Lee Ann Breading did not allow testimony to jurors, but said defense attorneys did not ask Wetteland about the ‘full picture’ of his family life .

In front of the jury, Wetteland denied the charges he sued with the parent, calling it “weird” and saying the boy shouldn’t see his “naked body”. Prosecutors alleged without the presence of the jury that Wetteland exposed himself to another parent who was 14 at the time.

The Dallas Morning News generally does not identify individuals alleging sexual assault. The news does not identify family members to protect the parent’s identity.

Former Texas Rangers pitcher John Wetteland, left back, who is charged with child sexual abuse, alongside his wife Rebecca Wetteland, right back, leaves the courtroom for a suspension at the county courthouse from Denton on Thursday, September 1, 2022. (Shafkat Anowar / personal photographer)

An investigation was launched after the parent’s high school learned of the abuse allegations in January 2019, according to testimony. District Software reported a letter written in Google Docs linked to the parent’s school-issued email. The man’s mother encouraged him to write the letter – intended only for immediate family – as a means of closure.

“I had about two, three sentences in … and I physically couldn’t read it,” Wetteland said of the letter. He said he finally read the letter before the trial began.

Prosecutors pressed him to find out if he contacted the relative after the allegations became public. Wetteland initially denied doing so, but then received text messages between the two, and prosecutors said he called the relative derogatory names. The texts were not shared with the jury.

Wetteland admitted to sending the messages, but said he did not recall doing so. He also said he may have believed he was communicating with the stepfather. Wetteland, whose demeanor was stoic when questioned by his lawyers, became increasingly defensive with prosecutors and shifted in his chair.

A juror rested her head in her hands and listened intently throughout her testimony. Others frowned.

The letter, Wetteland said, sounded like the tone of the stepfather. He said he had previously received messages from the stepfather, which he described as “borderline harassment”. Wetteland testified that he believed the letter was written by the stepfather or that he told the parent what to write.

Wetteland’s attorney, Derek Adame, said in questioning a brother of the accuser that the stepfather no longer believes the allegations. But we didn’t know why. The stepfather did not testify.

Two of the accusers’ older siblings testified that the language used in the letter did not match their brother. They said it matched the long messages they had received which they believed were written by the father-in-law. The man’s sister called the posts “defamatory, aggressive, hostile”.

The parent’s grandfather said it was “like the seat had fallen out from under him” when he read the multi-page letter.

“It’s not John Wetteland,” he told 13 jurors, including an alternate, and a full courtroom. “I couldn’t even get close to believe it.”

A younger brother of the relative testified earlier this week that she found her sibling trustworthy and told jurors he pressed her that the abuse happened. Their mother testified that he never retracted the sexual abuse charges.

The parent testified earlier this week that after the alleged abuse his mental health suffered and that he suffered from incontinence during his teenage years. Her mother told jurors it stopped after she revealed the abuse to her stepfather.

Newly signed Texas Rangers pitcher John Wetteland answers questions during Monday’s press conference at Arlington Ballpark in December 1996. Wetteland is on trial in Denton County charged with sexually abusing a child who is related to him. (98460)

The man’s sister said the incontinence was a medical problem caused by multiple surgeries he underwent as a young man.

Wetteland and his wife, Rebecca Wetteland, hugged and kissed after the defense closed their case Thursday afternoon. Wetteland’s family and friends were seated in the front row of the courtroom gallery throughout the trial.

Wetteland spent 12 years in the major leagues, pitching for four teams. He was the 1996 World Series MVP with the New York Yankees, then signed with the Rangers.

He retired after the 2000 season, and his 150 saves with the Rangers are still the most in franchise history.

He recited his baseball career to jurors while on the stand. He told the courtroom that he “hated” fame.

“I am sorry [the Rangers] didn’t do better,” he said; jurors and onlookers laughed.

Wetteland was elected to the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2005 and held a coaching and front office position with the team in the early 2000s. He was a bullpen coach for several other teams. He also coached and taught Bible classes at Liberty Christian School in Argyle in 2007 and 2008.

Although Wetteland is in the Rangers Hall of Fame, the club no longer has official links with him.

. former thrower of Rangers John Wetteland tells that he is victim lies on of allegations of abuse

. ExRangers pitcher John Wetteland hes victim lies abuse allegations

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