Melissa Verge shares her story: All I wanted was baseball advice. Instead, Robert Alomar pushed his unwelcome body up against mine. Why I’m speaking out now
The Blue Jays have launched an internal investigation of Roberto Alomar and its own operation over new allegations that have come to light in the aftermath of the player being permanently banned by Major League Baseball last month.
Alomar, a key figure in the Blue Jays’ World Series-winning teams of the early 1990s, had been one of the franchise’s most prominent ambassadors until he was banned by MLB and stripped of his affiliation with the club on April 30 following an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations from 2014.
The latest allegations also date back to 2014, but they involve a different woman — an 18-year-old volunteer at a kids’ baseball camp run by the Jays. She says Alomar, who was then 46, propositioned her for sex and, after offering her a private clubhouse tour, pressed his body against hers without her consent.
Melissa Verge, now 24, says she told a team official about the incidents soon after they happened. There is no evidence the official, Rob Jack, who was also a personal friend of Alomar’s, ever told anyone else within the organization.
Verge, who now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, had considered publicly sharing what she says Alomar did to her back in 2014, but decided against it. Now that another woman has come forward, she says, “it has opened the door for me to be able to share my story.”
In a statement, the Blue Jays say they were “troubled to learn about Ms. Verge’s experience in 2014 involving Roberto Alomar and another former employee. Since we were made aware of the incident by the Toronto Star, we have commenced an internal investigation using an outside firm.”
The Jays say they will continue to investigate allegations brought forward to them and “where appropriate, hold people accountable for their actions.”
The Star sent Alomar and Jack detailed questions for this story more than a week before publication. They did not respond.
The complainant in MLB’s investigation of Alomar — identified only as a “baseball industry employee” — declined to comment for this story through her lawyer, Lisa Banks.
MLB did not disclose any details about their investigation or what led Commissioner Rob Manfred to punish Alomar with the league’s most severe penalty. But according to multiple sources with knowledge of the investigation, the allegations in that case are far more serious than what is now being alleged by Verge.
The Star is also aware that at the same time MLB was investigating Alomar earlier this year, the Blue Jays enlisted their own external investigators to conduct a separate probe into unrelated allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” against Alomar involving a third woman. The Jays confirmed that investigation was recently completed, but they did not to disclose any details.
One former Blue Jays employee who was with the organization for more than a decade and spoke to the Star on the condition of anonymity, says that while he did not recall ever hearing of any formal complaints about Alomar, the recent allegations should not be a surprise to anyone within the organization.
The Blue Jays did not respond to this characterization in their statement.
“Do you want to see the clubhouse?”
Roberto Alomar, the greatest second baseman in Jays’ history and one of Melissa Verge’s baseball heroes, was asking if she wanted a tour of the team’s private sanctum.
A diehard Jays fan all her life, Verge was thrilled.
It was already surreal to even be in Alomar’s presence, dressed in her baseball gear and standing on the field at the Rogers Centre, where she had watched so many games from the stands, and where, in the summer of 2011, she watched as Alomar’s number 12 was retired by the Jays.
Today she was working alongside the former all-star and other Jays alumni as a volunteer coach for the Blue Jays Baseball Academy Honda Super Camp, a three-day instructional clinic for kids.
Verge had previously attended the camps as a baseball-obsessed teenager growing up in rural New Brunswick. That’s how she says she first met Alomar a couple of years earlier, when he and his father, Sandy Alomar Sr., were among the instructors as the tour stopped in Moncton in 2012 and 2013.
Now, having recently graduated from high school and moved to Toronto to attend Ryerson University, she was excited to be helping out at the camp.
So when Alomar asked if he could show her around, she was thrilled.
He guided her from the field, through the dugout and under the stands, pointing out various player amenities. They were in the players’ weight room, Verge says, when she sensed that Alomar had moved behind her.
“He was too close to me,” she says, recalling the incident in a recent interview. “Like, I could feel him breathing.”
A moment later Alomar was pressing his body against hers, she says, rubbing up against her from behind. Verge froze. She says she didn’t know what to do or how to make him stop. Her memory of how long it lasted is foggy. Somewhere between 10 seconds and a minute.
At some point she says she pulled away and started to walk out of the room.
But Alomar caught up to her, she says, and tightly wrapped his arm around her as they walked through the tunnel toward the field. Verge says he gave her his phone number on a piece of paper and, with his arm still wrapped around her, pulled her head close and asked her what kind of alcohol she liked to drink.
“Keep this between us,” she recalls him saying as they got back to the field.
Verge didn’t tell anyone at the camp what happened, but when she got back to her dorm room that night she told her then-boyfriend. (That man, who is no longer dating Verge, confirmed to the Star that she told him what allegedly happened with Alomar that day.)
Verge returned to the Rogers Centre the following day for the second day of the camp. During a break, she says Alomar approached her when she was standing alone. He told her that when the camp was done they could go back to his hotel suite.
“We can close the door and have some kissing and some loving,” Alomar allegedly said, according to an email she sent to one of her Ryerson professors in November 2014, two-and-a-half months after the incident occurred. “Just don’t tell your boyfriend.”
(The Star has reviewed the emails Verge sent to her professor, Lisa Taylor, who confirmed their authenticity. Alomar is not named in the emails, but both incidents are otherwise described. Verge was considering writing about what allegedly happened in 2014 and was asking Taylor for advice. Taylor directed Verge to Ryerson’s counselling services and walked her through the potential legal risks of writing about the alleged incidents. Verge’s parents also confirmed to the Star that she told them about the alleged incidents soon after they happened.)
Verge doesn’t remember what, if anything, she said to Alomar in response to his invitation.
But she remembers feeling scared and being close to tears. “I was literally shaking.”
She decided she needed to tell someone what Alomar had said to her, so she approached Rob Jack, one of the Blue Jays officials who was running the camp.
Jack was the Jays’ manager of social marketing and often handled alumni events.
He was also a close friend of Alomar’s. He was in the bridal party at Alomar’s 2012 Toronto wedding to Kim Perks, according to a Toronto Sun article. Alomar and Perks are still married. (They both filed for divorce in Florida, where they have a residence, in 2017, but withdrew their applications in 2019, according to court records.)
Verge says she told Jack what happened and Jack subsequently spoke to Alomar. The two men then approached Verge together, she says, and Alomar said something resembling an apology. “I don’t know if he actually said, ‘I’m sorry,’ but it seemed like an apology.”
Verge says Alomar also told her he always thought of her as a sister, which confused her. She says they had only met a few times, always at the Jays’ baseball camps.
Jack was fired by the Jays after the 2015 season; the Star does not know why. Since then he has been president of Alomar Sports Inc., a marketing and events company that books appearances for sports celebrities.
Jack did not file a report with the Blue Jays’ human resources department or inform any other team officials about the alleged incidents between Alomar and Verge, the Jays say. In their statement, they say their “people leaders” are required to report inappropriate behaviour to their human resources department. “Any failure to do so contradicts our core values. We are committed to fostering trust with our employees so they have confidence in our process and feel supported speaking up.”
Paul Beeston, who was president of the Blue Jays from 1989 to 1997 and 2008 to 2015, declined to comment on the new allegations against Alomar. “I have nothing to say.”
The Star has learned that 14 people, including Alomar and Jack, were interviewed as part of MLB’s investigation of Alomar, which began in January and took three months to complete. After reading the investigators’ 11-page report, Manfred did not hesitate to add Alomar to MLB’s Ineligible List, thereby permanently banning him from any affiliation with the league or its teams.
The Star has not seen the report, although some details have been confirmed by multiple sources.
When Jack was interviewed as part of the investigation earlier this year, he told investigators he could not believe Alomar would ever do what the complainant had alleged, according to a short excerpt of the report viewed by the Star. “I just do not see it as factual,” he told investigators, “because I’ve never seen any of this behaviour from Roberto.”
Verge’s experience with Alomar in 2014 left a lasting mark. She says it forever changed the way she perceived men who were friendly to her. It also tainted her love of baseball, which was such a refuge during her awkward high school years, when she would practise pitching into a hockey net in her backyard while listening to Jerry Howarth’s play-by-play on the radio.
“Whenever I was on the field I just felt like this is where I belong.”
The alleged incident with Alomar stole some of that sense of belonging, she says, but sharing her story for the first time has been “therapeutic,” as if a weight has been lifted. She says she hopes her story helps prevent something similar from happening to other women or girls. “I hope they can speak out and speak up for what’s right and hopefully not let men who are in positions of power take advantage of them.”