On July 2, three days after a San Diego woman obtained a temporary restraining order against Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, Major League Baseball put Bauer on paid leave so it could investigate her allegations of sexual assault against him.
On Aug. 19, a judge dissolved the restraining order. On Aug. 27, three months after the woman first met with Pasadena police, detectives turned over their investigative file to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. The district attorney’s office has yet to announce whether it will file criminal charges against Bauer.
For Bauer, for his accuser, for the Dodgers and for the league, uncertain times lie ahead.
The World Series is about to end. Will Bauer’s leave be extended again?
No. Under the so-called “administrative leave,” a player continues to receive his salary, while the league removes him from the active roster during an investigation. Players are not paid during the offseason, and there are no games, so there is no need for the leave.
So what happens now?
The logical next step would be an announcement from the district attorney’s office about whether Bauer will face criminal charges. There is no timetable for such an announcement.
What would happen if Bauer is charged?
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can suspend Bauer with pay until the criminal case is concluded, then determine whether an unpaid, disciplinary suspension should be assessed. Manfred also can decide the league has enough evidence to announce its discipline, even before the criminal case is completed.
Criminal cases rarely proceed quickly. In November 2014, the district attorney’s office filed a felony domestic violence charge against the Kings’ Slava Voynov. In July 2015, Voynov accepted a deal in which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. He served two months in jail, with three years on probation; the misdemeanor conviction was dismissed after he completed probation.
If the judge terminated the restraining order, how would Bauer be subject to criminal charges?
The judge ruled that Bauer was not likely “to cause [the accuser] any harm or even have contact” with her, so a restraining order was not warranted. The district attorney is evaluating the Pasadena police investigation into whether Bauer committed felony assault during two sexual encounters with the woman.
Didn’t the judge say Bauer’s actions were within the bounds of consent?
In her initial court filing, the accuser provided medical records that showed doctors had diagnosed her with “assault by manual strangulation” and “acute head injury” following the second encounter, in which she said Bauer choked her with her own hair and punched her in the face and vagina. In her testimony in court, the accuser said, “I did not consent to bruises all over my body that sent me to the hospital, and having that done to me while I was unconscious.”
In her ruling, Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman said the woman’s injuries, as depicted in photographs, were “terrible.” But the judge also said the only evidence of any injury the woman sustained while unconscious resulted from getting “hit on the butt.” The judge also said the woman was “not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the … first encounter and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.”
The district attorney is not bound by those conclusions. The district attorney also has to weigh how much the credibility of the accuser might have been damaged when the judge ruled the woman was “materially misleading” in her initial court filing.
If the district attorney decides not to charge Bauer with a crime, then what happens?
Baseball’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy, collectively bargained between the commissioner’s office and the players’ union, empowers Manfred to suspend a player for violating the policy. A player need not be charged or convicted.
In 2019, for instance, Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic battery after witnesses claimed he shoved his girlfriend to the ground in a Beverly Center parking lot. The woman said she fell. Urías was not charged, but Manfred suspended him for 20 games.
Domestic violence is defined in the policy in part as “physical or sexual violence, emotional and/or psychological intimidation, verbal violence, stalking, economic control, harassment, physical intimidation or injury.” The policy also states that “a single incident of abusive behavior … may subject a player to discipline.”
Sexual assault is defined in part as “a completed nonconsensual act, an attempted nonconsensual sex act, and/or nonconsensual sexual contact.” The policy also states that “lack of consent is inferred when a person uses force, harassment, threat of force … or other coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, unconscious or legally incapable of consent.”
If Bauer were to be suspended, how long might the suspension last?
Previous suspensions under the policy have ranged from 15 games to 162 games — that is, an entire season.
For practical purposes, Manfred would want to be able to defend the length of a suspension relative to the previous ones. However, because all those suspensions were resolved in settlement agreements rather than simply handed down by Manfred, an arbitrator would not be able to consider the lengths of those suspensions as precedent. That means Manfred could justify the length of a suspension relative to others in the court of public opinion, but not in a potential arbitration hearing or court case.
Are there factors that might contribute toward a lengthier suspension?
Yes. Not all of the previous cases had medical records and photographic evidence for MLB to consider, but the Bauer case does. Also, according to the Washington Post, an Ohio woman previously obtained a temporary restraining order against Bauer after what her attorney said were injuries suffered during a sexual encounter in which Bauer punched and choked her without consent. The Post said it independently obtained photographs that showed a bruised face and bloodied eyes.
None of the players suspended to date has been publicly linked to more than one accuser. The Ohio woman, who later withdrew the restraining order, has cooperated with MLB investigators.
What have Bauer and his representatives said?
Bauer’s agents have described the two sexual encounters with the San Diego woman as “wholly consensual” and dismissed her claims as “baseless allegations.” His attorneys wrote in a court filing that the woman pursued the matter “to generate publicity, try to end [Bauer’s] baseball career, and gain a monetary settlement.”
The agents also dismissed the claims of the Ohio woman, telling the Post allegations of abuse were “categorically false” and questioning the authenticity of the photographs. In a statement, the agents said the Ohio woman wished to continue a relationship that Bauer did not and, when rebuffed, “filed a bogus protection petition as ruse to demand millions of dollars.” Bauer himself called the claims “baseless allegations from a woman who has … harassed and physically assaulted me.”
Bauer did not testify at the four-day hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order granted to the San Diego woman should be lifted or extended. Baseball’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy requires Bauer to meet with MLB investigators, but he has not done so for the same reason he did not testify: So long as a potential criminal case looms, anything he says in any forum could be used against him in a criminal trial. If the district attorney does not charge him, Bauer could make his case to the league he should be cleared to play.
If Bauer were to be suspended, would any of his time on administrative leave count toward the suspension?
Bauer was on administrative leave for the Dodgers’ final 81 games of the regular season — that is, half the season — and the Dodgers’ 12 postseason games.
If Bauer were willing to accept a suspension, he could try to negotiate a “time served” provision as part of a settlement with the commissioner’s office. In 2020, for example, when New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German accepted an 81-game suspension, Manfred credited him for the 18 games he had missed while on administrative leave.
If Bauer were not willing to accept a suspension, could he appeal whatever suspension Manfred might levy against him?
Yes. In 2014, when MLB suspended Alex Rodriguez for 211 games for “use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances … over the course of multiple years,” an arbitrator reduced the suspension to 162 games. In 2012, after Ryan Braun had been suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances, the suspension was thrown out via arbitration because testing protocols had not been followed.
However, while baseball’s drug policy allows suspended players to keep playing until an appeal is heard, the domestic violence policy has no such provision.
It’s November. Spring training starts in February. Will this be resolved soon?
The district attorney does not answer to the baseball calendar. However, the sooner he makes his decision, the sooner Manfred can make his, and the sooner Bauer can consider his response.
Manfred has the option to suspend Bauer at any time, based on evidence MLB has gathered from its own investigation, or to transfer disciplinary authority to the Dodgers.
If the league were to suspend him, whenever that might happen, Bauer could appeal to an arbitrator. If the Dodgers were to suspend him and/or void his contract, Bauer could appeal that too. In any circumstance, a court case cannot be ruled out.
If Bauer believes the evidence shows he has done nothing wrong, he could essentially aim to put Manfred on trial, claiming the league would be trying to equate unconventional but consensual sex with domestic violence and sexual assault.
“Trevor is not going to accept a plea to anything,” said one person familiar with Bauer’s general thought process. “It’s just not in his nature.
“I think this could get nothing but ugly.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports