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Prosecutor: Baseball coach had 'depraved appetite' for young girls

Former Yankee Rosendo Torres, who is facing trial

Former Yankee Rosendo Torres, who is facing trial in the sexual molestation of an 8-year-old girl in 2012, leaves a courtroom in Mineola on July 16, 2014 after trial proceedings. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Nassau prosecutor Wednesday characterized ex-Yankee outfielder Rosendo "Rusty" Torres as a man with a "depraved appetite" for young girls who sexually abused two 8-year-olds he was coaching.

Assistant District Attorney D.J. Rosenbaum, in her opening statement in Nassau County Court, said Torres, a youth baseball coach for Oyster Bay Town, had inappropriate contact with the victims through what the girls knew as "bumping" when he coached them between 2008 and 2012.

"He liked to bump her in her private area with his private area," Rosenbaum said.

Defense attorney Troy A. Smith, said his client is not a predator, but rather a beloved, retired player who mentored some 40,000 kids after his career ended, helping them become role models.

"Forty thousand to one, a one in 40,000 chance that there is even one iota of truth to any of these allegations," said Smith, a White Plains lawyer.

He said parents and others -- who referred to themselves as "coach Rusty groupies" -- faithfully traveled to Torres' baseball sessions.

Torres, 65 and from Massapequa, was arrested in May 2012 and indicted in January 2013 on seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of a "course of sexual conduct against a child" in the second-degree, court papers show.

Besides the Yankees, the journeyman outfielder also played with the Indians, Angels, White Sox and Royals in his career from 1971 to 1980.

His trial was delayed several times due to health issues and as he hired and dismissed three other lawyers.

The acts against one girl allegedly took place between October 2008, when she was in kindergarten, and May 2012. The alleged acts against a second victim took place on April 16, 2012, her first class with Torres, and twice more that month in Plainview.

Rosenbaum said Torres allegedly exposed himself to the victim and took her into a van on April 30, where other alleged acts took place.

On May 7, 2012 -- her last session -- she told Torres "that hurts me when you do that," Rosenbaum said.

That day, she came home and abruptly left the dinner table, her baby-sitter, then a college student, testified yesterday. "She ran upstairs crying," said the baby-sitter, who Newsday is not identifying. The girl asked to speak to her mother that night, the baby-sitter said.

The girl's mother, who Newsday is not identifying, testified that her daughter told her on May 7 that Torres exposed himself to her. Rosenbaum said Torres' "access" to the girls "came to a screeching halt."

Torres was suspended shortly afterward.

Nassau County Judge Tammy S. Robbins dismissed the jury early so that the prosecution could review new photos handed over by the defense.

One victim is expected to testify on Thursday.

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