Former Texas Rangers pitcher John Wetteland’s trial on charges of sexual assault of a child began this week in the 462nd District Court in Denton County.
Wetteland, 56, is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison. The former pitcher is accused of sexually abusing a relative at his former home in Bartonville, about 10 miles south of Denton.
The relative, now 22, alleged to jurors that Wetteland forced him to perform a sex act on him three times between 2004 and 2006, beginning when he was 4 years old.
The relative’s mental health suffered greatly. He suffered from incontinence, stuttered, and cut his body throughout his teenage years, the relative’s mother told jurors on Tuesday.
The relative’s mother said those behaviors ended when he told others of the alleged abuse as if a weight had been lifted. The victim was 16 in 2016 when he first told his mother of the alleged sexual abuse he said occurred when he was younger.
The relative’s school district learned of the alleged abuse in January 2019 after he was encouraged by his mother to write a letter detailing the apparent abuse as a means of attaining closure.
“It was meant to be a healing step,” the mother testified, adding that the letter was intended only to be seen by immediate family.
However, according to testimony, the school district’s software flagged the letter, which was written in a Google Docs account linked to the relative’s school-issued email.
In the letter, the relative, who lives out of state, claimed the abuse happened in the master bathroom shower of Wetteland’s Bartonville home and called Wetteland a “psychopath” and “[expletive] pig.”
“I was too young to even understand what he was doing to me,” the relative wrote. He said his naïveté made him believe he and Wetteland were role-playing Joseph and Mary from the Bible.
The relative explained in the letter that he feared losing those close to him if he told anyone.
A school counselor reported the letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).
Bartonville police have said they were contacted about the alleged abuse by the Texas DFPS on January 9, 2019. Wetteland was arrested after an investigation and indicted by a grand jury in 2019.
High school teachers testified the relative’s demeanor changed after Wetteland’s arrest in 2019. His “outspoken and loud” character turned reserved, and he stopped caring for himself, they said.
Wetteland has pleaded not guilty, and his attorneys have argued the relative’s allegations are false. Wetteland shifted in his chair as the letter was read on the second day of testimony while his family sat in the front row of the courtroom gallery.
Wetteland’s lawyer, Derek Adame, said the relative accusing Wetteland was a theatrical “spoiled brat” who was manipulated into bringing false allegations.
On the trial’s first day, Adame said the relative “accidentally on purpose” alerted the school to the abuse and called his story “fiction.” Adame argued that anyone with access to the relative’s school email and password could have written the letter.
Wetteland spent 12 years in the major leagues, winning the 1996 World Series MVP with the New York Yankees, and then pitched for the Rangers from 1997-2000. He also played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Montreal Expos.
He retired after the 2000 season, and his 150 saves with the Rangers are still the most in franchise history. Wetteland was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2005.
Wetteland held a coaching and front office position with the Rangers in the early 2000s before serving as a bullpen coach for several other teams.
Wetteland also coached and taught Bible classes at Argyle’s Liberty Christian School from 2007 to 2008.