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Ex-Yankee on trial for allegedly sexually abusing young girls on Long Island

Rosendo “Rusty” Torres is on trial in Nassau County for allegedly sexually abusing two 8-year-old girls while working as a youth baseball coach in Plainview.
Photo Credit: Mike Balsamo/Examiner.com

A former New York Yankee with a “depraved appetite for little girls” allegedly sexually abused two elementary-school-aged children while coaching them at a Long Island after school program, a prosecutor said at his trial Wednesday.

Rosendo “Rusty” Torres, 65, has pleaded not guilty to felony sexual abuse and sexual conduct against a child charges. Prosecutors charge he had inappropriate sexual contact with two 8-year-old girls while he was working as a youth coach at a Town of Oyster Bay after-school program. He is accused of rubbing up against one of the girls before allegedly exposing himself to her and encouraging her to touch him.

Assistant District Attorney D.J. Rosenbaum said Torres, who the girls knew as “Coach Rusty,” had “a unique technique for coaching these little girls.” Referring to the conduct as “bumping,” Rosenbaum said of Torres: “He liked to bump her in her area with his private area … Every time she bumped, she felt something in coach’s pants.”

Torres’ defense lawyer, Troy A. Smith, said his client was a beloved, retired major leaguer who had mentored more than 40,000 children on Long Island and has a following of what he called “Coach Rusty groupies.”

Prosecutors contend that one of the girls was allegedly abused from the time she was in kindergarten – in 2008 – until 2012. The second girl, officials said, was allegedly victimized at the first session of the after-school program in April 2012. Examiner.com is not naming either girl – or identifying their family members who testify – because they have been identified as possible victims of a sex crime.

According to the district attorney’s office, Torres took the second girl into his town-owned van, where he had her get on top of him. “He had that little girl ride him up and down,” Rosenbaum told jurors. He also allegedly exposed himself and had the young girl touch him, prosecutors charge.

Smith, a White Plains-based defense attorney, also questioned the prosecution’s accusation that Torres took one of the victims into a van. He said some of the alleged conduct supposedly occurred in the open, with about 15 other children in the immediate vicinity and teachers walking by.

A babysitter for one of the victims said the girl had abruptly left the dinner table in tears one afternoon in May. She called the girl’s mother, who returned home and took the third-grader to a Bronx hospital for treatment after she said Torres had exposed himself to her. The babysitter is not being identified in this story at the request of the Nassau County district attorney’s office.

Torres, who suffers from prostate cancer, was arrested early the next morning – on May 8, 2012 – and Rosenbaum said his “depraved appetite for little girls was exposed and his access to them came to a screeching halt.”

Torres’ lawyer said the girl suffers from “emotional issues.” Her interview with police was not recorded, but detectives wrote down what the girl told them in an interview, the victim’s mother testified.

Smith said the other alleged victim only came forward after her friend reported being abused by Torres. He said he believed she may have been asked leading questions during her interview with investigators.

“We highly disagree with [the prosecution’s] assessment of this case,” he said. “We believe the charges are mistaken … We’re confident at the close of the case Rusty will be found to be innocent.”

Jurors were dismissed early on Wednesday after prosecutors said they needed time to review photographs provided by the defense. Torres left court without commenting. Testimony in the case is expected to continue Thursday.