How Trevor Bauer’s victory in court could affect the police sex assault investigation
A Los Angeles County judge’s decision to reject a woman’s request for a permanent restraining order against Trevor Bauer didn’t surprise legal experts.
But it remains to be seen how the legal victory for the Dodgers pitcher will affect the ongoing criminal investigation into allegations that he assaulted her.
Here is a breakdown of what has happened in court and where the case is going:
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What was at issue in the case?
A woman who alleges Bauer sexually assaulted her sought to have a temporary restraining order against him extended for five years.
Lawyers and legal experts who have handled such proceedings and criminal cases said the judge likely rejected the request because Bauer had not made contact after the woman reported her accusations to Pasadena police in May.
The young woman testified that she had engaged in two consensual sexual encounters with the Dodgers pitcher, but her attorneys argued that consent only went so far.
They alleged that Bauer’s actions during a second encounter amounted to an assault. He punched her repeatedly in the face, leaving her visibly injured and striking her in the buttocks and vagina, according to her attorneys. In June, she obtained a domestic violence temporary restraining order against Bauer.
The woman is not being identified because she is alleging she was sexually assaulted.
A judge Thursday lifted a restraining order against Trevor Bauer. MLB and police investigations of the Dodgers pitcher continue.
Was the decision a surprise?
Not really, experts said.
Such orders require you to show you have a close relationship and were threatened or abused but are usually granted by a judge without a hearing to determine the merits of the accuser’s statements. They typically last a short period of time until a hearing is held on a permanent order.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman did find that Bauer and the San Diego woman had a “dating relationship,” one of the first tests for establishing the need for such long-term orders to keep one person away from another.
But she said that the evidence showed no threat existed and that the behavior was consensual. To get a permanent restraining order, those breaches are required, experts said.
“The evidence showed that Trevor Bauer did not constitute an imminent threat or danger to the woman,” said Louis Shapiro, a prominent criminal defense attorney. “The testimony showed there had not been any contact for months.”
The woman’s allegations have received much media attention. But Loyola Law professor Laurie Levinson said this week’s hearing marked the most extensive judicial inquiry into the matter.
“The court is where everything shakes out,” said Levinson, adding that she agreed with the judge’s decision. “What worries me is how this will impact those who really need restraining orders. Will they be reluctant?”
Dodgers president Stan Kasten writes in staff memo the team does not condone or excuse any acts of domestic violence or sexual assault.
How could the decision affect the larger criminal investigation
The woman said during her 12 hours of testimony that she had consensual sex twice with Bauer, and her attorneys argued that when Bauer punched her repeatedly during the second encounter, it constituted assault. Bauer’s attorney said various text and social media messages show the encounters were consensual.
The judge concluded in her order that Bauer “did not coerce her or threaten her into sexual activity.” Some experts said this backs up what Bauer’s attorneys have been arguing all along and suggests that Pasadena police and L.A. County prosecutors might struggle to build a case against the Dodgers player.
“The judge said it was all consensual,” Los Angeles attorney David Ring said. “The young woman may have thought one thing, but everything she wrote indicates she agreed to such behavior.”
Shapiro said prosecutors would likely have to prove domestic battery with offensive touching of another without some form of consent. “Punching would seem offensive, but you have to look at the totality of the circumstances,” he said.
It’s unclear what evidence Pasadena police have gathered in the Bauer case. Authorities have recordings of Bauer talking to the woman, but it’s not known what he said.
A Los Angeles judge denied a request for a restraining order against Trevor Bauer. This is what we learned from the last four days — and what we may never learn.
Michelle Simpson Tuegel, who represented victims of Dr. Larry Nassar in the gymnastics abuse scandal, said she believes a credible criminal case may still be possible.
“The criminal justice system fails survivors pretty regularly. About half of the cases I handle, I would say there is no criminal prosecution. We put a lot of stock in what the police do, but sometimes they don’t do it well.” She said the woman’s physical injuries are visible and the text communications are often taken out of context.
“Consenting to one act is not consenting to everything,” she said.
However, she questions why the woman’s lawyer continues to pursue a restraining order given that Bauer was under police investigation and the subject of the extensive probe by Major League Baseball, which has suspended him from playing.
Simpson Tuegel said: “It is not a recommended path. Even the most professional witnesses can struggle. It is hard for any survivor to strike the right balance.”
What is status of Pasadena police investigation?
Officials have said little about it. Once the detectives finish the investigation, it will be presented to the Los Angeles. County district attorney, who will decide whether to file charges.
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