Q&A on sexual assault case involving Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer
The Dodgers open the second half of the season Friday in Denver, but pitcher Trevor Bauer will not be there. Bauer, who is in the first year of a three-year, $102-million contract, remains under investigation in a sexual assault case, and Major League Baseball and the players’ union have agreed to extend his paid administrative leave through July 27.
Questions, answers and a look ahead:
What is the status of the investigation?
There are two investigations, one by the Pasadena Police Department and one by MLB. Both are ongoing. Bauer has not been arrested or charged.
What happens between now and July 27?
The woman accusing Bauer has obtained a temporary restraining order against him, based on her written testimony and medical records, photographs and text messages.
At a July 23 hearing, a judge is scheduled to consider whether to keep the restraining order in force. Bauer’s attorneys can question the accuser. Bauer can testify, although legal experts consider that unlikely, because anything he would say could be used against him in a potential criminal case.
It will cost them a lot of money and could lead to legal action, but the Dodgers can’t wait any longer. They need to get rid of Trevor Bauer immediately.
When would Bauer find out if he was being charged with a crime?
“We have no way to know that,” Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Lou Shapiro said. “Usually, once cases are reported to law enforcement, they’re decided by the D.A.’s office within three to four months.”
Bauer’s accuser said she first met with Pasadena police May 18. Shapiro said the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office could be taking extra care with this case, given the uncertainty over whether Bauer would consider a plea deal and the challenge of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Bauer has retained a powerful local attorney and private investigator, according to USA Today.
Will the judge rule on the restraining order on the day of the hearing?
Not necessarily. The hearing could be delayed to another day, or it might not finish in one day. Whenever the judge rules, according to Los Angeles family law attorney Chloe Wolman, there are two possible outcomes: the restraining order is kept in place, or it is lifted.
Either way, Wolman said, “That legal case is effectively over.”
Why could that be particularly relevant to MLB?
If the district attorney has not decided whether to charge Bauer by July 27, MLB could ask the players’ union to agree to extend the leave to accommodate what would still be ongoing investigations.
If the union were to agree, Bauer would remain on paid leave.
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If the union were to decline, commissioner Rob Manfred might be unable to invoke a provision of the domestic violence policy that allows him to put a player on paid suspension when he believes a pending “criminal or legal proceeding would result in substantial and irreparable harm to either the Club or Major League Baseball.”
If the restraining order is not lifted, MLB could try to argue that a legal case is still open. In the absence of criminal charges, however, a ruling on the restraining order would most likely mean Bauer would not be involved in a “criminal or legal proceeding” at that point.
Would that force MLB to let Bauer return to the Dodgers?
Manfred could reinstate Bauer while the MLB investigation continues, deferring any discipline until its conclusion. He also could decide whether to suspend Bauer, and for how long, based on whatever information MLB has at that point — with the risk that additional evidence might later come to light but too late to affect the suspension decision.
Would there be another option?
At any time during the MLB investigation, the domestic violence policy empowers Manfred to transfer the authority to discipline Bauer from the league to the Dodgers.
The Dodgers unnecessarily signed a pitcher with a history of making troublesome decisions when they already had the best team in baseball.
This has not happened. If it were to happen, and if the Dodgers wished, they could then consider releasing him and paying off the balance of his contract — or trying to void the contract and risking an almost certain grievance.
The Dodgers also could consider those options upon the conclusion of the MLB investigation.
What would be the grounds for voiding the contract?
Bauer’s contract is not publicly available, so whatever particular grounds it might provide are unknown. However, the standard player contract allows a team to terminate the deal should the player “fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship.”
Is there any recent precedent for voiding a contract?
In 2004, after Denny Neagle was cited on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute, the Colorado Rockies terminated his contract, citing that very same language from the standard player contract.
Neagle filed a grievance. In 2005, he and the Rockies reached a settlement under which he was paid roughly $16 million of the $19.5 million left on his contract, according to the Denver Post. In 2006, Neagle pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of “patronizing a prostitute” and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer is on paid administrative leave after being accused by a woman of sexual assault. Here’s our coverage.
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