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In March, an Arizona mother posted on Twitter that her son had been bullied and asked the internet to deliver him birthday wishes. Trevor Bauer saw the post, invited the family to a Dodgers spring training game, and presented the son with an autographed jersey. Bauer said he could relate to the bullied boy.
“That is a story I identify with,” Bauer said that day. “That was my entire childhood.”
It is particularly unfortunate, then, that Bauer and his representatives have used bullying tactics in responding to sexual assault allegations against him.
On Saturday, after the Washington Post reported that an Ohio woman had obtained a temporary order of protection against him last year, Bauer complained on Twitter that the Post had “spent the last six weeks digging into my life … in an effort to create a false narrative.”
In a hearing that begins Monday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge will consider whether to keep in place a temporary restraining order against Bauer, this one obtained by a California woman. The allegations made in her request for the restraining order — that he choked her unconscious twice and injured her face — naturally triggered probes by police detectives, Major League Baseball and investigative reporters. It would be irresponsible not to determine if there might be evidence of a pattern of behavior, particularly given Bauer’s checkered, often bullying, social media interactions with women.
Bauer claimed the Ohio woman had “attempted to extort me for millions of dollars.” The Post reported that an attorney representing Bauer “first mentioned the possibility of a financial settlement” and asked for an offer, after which an attorney representing the woman proposed $3.4 million. The woman, according to the report, dismissed the protection order after six weeks, following threats of legal action by Bauer's attorneys.
In the California case, attorneys for Bauer wrote in a court filing this week that the woman pursued the matter in part to “gain a monetary settlement.” The evidence in the filing: a text message from the woman to a friend, in which the woman said of her attorneys: “They think he[’]s gonna try to settle with me[,] offer me major cash.” Bauer’s attorneys cite that text message in saying the woman “hoped” for a settlement, but that text message does not support the use of that verb.
Publicists representing Bauer aggressively and repeatedly demand “urgent corrections” to stories — not because of errors in the stories, but to offer information and perspective.
If there is a false narrative here, it comes from a well-worn playbook. For now, President Trump is undefeated in using the deny-deny-attack-deny-deny-distract strategy in response to allegations of sexual assault.
Bauer’s baseball career is at stake, but that convenient framing obscures the larger story. Bauer is under investigation for felony assault. His attorneys have denied the allegations. He has not been arrested or charged. If he is, then his freedom is at stake.
There are serious allegations here, and the selective use of photographs and text messages — on both sides — obscures the resolution of those allegations: Did Bauer in fact choke a woman to the point of unconsciousness and, if so, is consent rendered invalid when a person becomes unconscious?
It remains astounding that the Dodgers have not yet offered a robust denunciation of that kind of behavior, independent of whether Bauer might be guilty of it.
When MLB put Washington Nationals infielder Starlin Castro on leave last month, amid an investigation into an allegation of domestic violence, this is what Nationals manager Dave Martinez said: “What I can tell you about me and this organization, as you know, we do not tolerate any kind of domestic abuse.”
This is what Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said four days later, just before MLB suspended Castro: “We do pride ourselves ... you’ve heard me say it a million times, that you read about our guys in the sports section and not the other sections. And this time we failed.”
From the Dodgers, we got jokes from President Stan Kasten, for which Kasten has not apologized, either before or after he was rebuked by Commissioner Rob Manfred. Bauer almost certainly will receive a lengthy suspension from Manfred, and maybe the Dodgers will speak up then.
We know where the Nationals stand. We do not know where the Dodgers stand. We know Bauer stands for bullying, all the sadder since he knows what it feels like to be bullied.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.