8:00 AM ET
Alden Gonzalez and Tisha Thompson
Editor’s note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault allegations.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, one of the most polarizing players in his sport, is expected in court Monday for a civil hearing with wide-ranging implications for both the sexual assault allegations against him and, ultimately, his future in baseball.
After a couple of delays, Bauer will act as the respondent in what is typically a straightforward legal proceeding to determine whether the temporary restraining order granted on June 29 to a 27-year-old woman will be extended or terminated.
The woman, who is not being identified by ESPN, says Bauer choked her unconscious multiple times during sex, repeatedly punched her and committed other acts that left her in need of medical care. Bauer’s representatives have strongly denied the woman’s statements, calling the sexual encounters “wholly consensual” and promising to refute the claims “to the fullest extent of the law.”
The vast majority of such cases are resolved within two hours, typically with no attorneys present, according to several California family law experts interviewed by ESPN. But this hearing at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in L.A. County Superior Court is shaping up to resemble a full trial, with celebrity attorneys, dozens of exhibits and roughly 10 witnesses over several days.
“There is a lot riding on this three- or four-day hearing,” said David Ring, an attorney who has represented sexual assault victims for more than two decades. “It’s a simple legal issue, but it’s ballooned into something way bigger.”
One of Bauer’s lawyers, Shawn Holley, represented Lindsay Lohan, Kanye West and Paris Hilton in various cases. Another is Jon Fetterolf, a baseball agent based in Washington, D.C., who also litigates criminal cases. The woman accusing Bauer has hired Meyer, Olson, Lowy & Meyers, one of the most well-known family law firms in Southern California, as well as Bryan Freedman, who previously represented Michael Jackson’s estate.
As part of her request for the restraining order, the woman submitted an 84-page declaration that included text exchanges, photographs and medical records. She said Bauer choked her unconscious with her own hair, sodomized her without consent, punched her in the vagina and buttocks, and scratched both her back and the side of her face during sex on April 22 and May 16. She said she consented to sex, “However I did not agree or consent to what he did next. I did not agree to be sexually assaulted.”
Two days later, the Pasadena Police Department began a criminal investigation that has, to date, produced neither an arrest nor charges.
Six weeks later, on June 29, the temporary restraining order was filed, and three days after that, Major League Baseball placed Bauer on administrative leave. Investigations by both the police and MLB are ongoing.
The woman’s petition said she sought the order after becoming “deeply concerned that no arrest has been made or charges filed,” and she felt isolated and stressed while waiting. “I have not asked him to stop contacting me because I fear what he will do.”
In court filings before this hearing, attorneys for Bauer, who lives in Pasadena, pointed to the six-week lag as evidence of their assertion that the woman used the restraining order as “a tool for attracting media attention and attempting to end Respondent’s baseball career.”
“She filed the request for a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO) nearly 45 days after her last visit with Respondent — a fact that shows she did not need protection — only after she concluded that the criminal investigation was not proceeding quickly enough to harm Respondent,” the filing said.
Bauer’s attorneys previously told the judge they will advise him to invoke his right not to testify under the Fifth Amendment in this hearing. But that raises what Ring identified as “a big dilemma” for the pitcher.
“Let’s just assume he’s innocent here and he wants to clear his name. The quickest, most effective way to do that is to come into this hearing and lay it all out there,” Ring said. “But he’s now running the risk of maybe he says something or admits to something that somehow hurts him in a criminal case.
“There’s way more at stake here than some restraining order.”
The Bauer case is unusual because it is neither a criminal trial nor a civil proceeding in which anyone is seeking compensation. It is a request for no contact and protection.
Judges often grant temporary orders “ex parte” — after hearing just one party’s side — and consider these emergency hearings because someone is often trying to escape a life-threatening situation.
But the U.S. Constitution affords everyone the right to face the person accusing them. This week’s hearing will determine whether the order against Bauer becomes “permanent,” which in California means up to five years. If granted, Bauer could be ordered to stay away from the woman, not communicate with her, and he might not be allowed to possess or own any firearms.
Both sides will be allowed to present their case and cross-examine witnesses. The hearing will take place in family court, which typically handles divorces, child custody and domestic violence.
“Family law is a preponderance of evidence while criminal law is beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Lovette Mioni, a family law attorney with expertise in domestic violence cases. “Many times it is he said, she said. It’s up to the judge to weigh their credibility.”
The woman’s attorneys have presented a witness list that includes nine people, including the woman herself, Bauer, police officers, a doctor, a nurse, her father and her best friend. Bauer’s attorneys have indicated they also plan to call the best friend, as well as two or three additional people.
In July, the woman’s legal team sent subpoenas to Twitter, Facebook, a private investigator working for Bauer’s legal team, the medical center where the woman was treated, and the San Diego Police Department, which sent officers to meet with her while she was receiving medical treatment after the second encounter.
Bauer’s attorneys, in response, asked the judge to quash the subpoenas to the private investigator and the technology companies. They present several arguments, including that the subpoenas are “overbroad, burdensome and harassing,” and in the case of Twitter and Facebook, “seek confidential information” dating back to before Bauer met the woman. The women’s legal team withdrew the request for the Twitter and Facebook subpoenas, and the judge agreed to quash the request for the private investigator, according to her legal team.
Pasadena police also asked the judge to quash subpoenas it received from the woman’s legal team, saying they would compromise work that is “awaiting information from third party individuals and entities.” Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman, who will preside over the case, agreed to keep any records obtained from the Pasadena Police Department confidential, but she also ordered the officers from San Diego to appear.
What might prove to be Bauer’s last pitch for the Dodgers came in the sixth inning of a June 28 game against the rival San Francisco Giants. Before nearly 48,000 fans at Dodger Stadium, Bauer got pinch hitter Darin Ruf to chase a slider well out of the strike zone for the third out to protect a one-run lead.
He roared, raised both hands to the crowd and pumped his chest as he walked to the dugout.
At 9:02 that morning, Bauer had been informed through a text message from one of the woman’s attorneys that a temporary restraining order would be sought against him, according to court records.
In the weeks since the allegations were made public, the Dodgers have seemingly distanced themselves from a man they signed to an unprecedented three-year, $102 million free-agent contract last offseason.
Bauer’s bobblehead night, originally scheduled for Thursday, was canceled. His merchandise was pulled from the team stores because the Dodgers “did not feel it was appropriate while investigations continue,” according to a statement. And the team acquired Max Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, soon after details of the temporary restraining order were made public.
None of Bauer’s teammates have come out in public support of him (though none have publicly condemned him, either).
ESPN has asked more than a dozen people in baseball — none of whom are employed by the Dodgers — about Bauer’s absence over the past few weeks, and all are convinced Bauer will not pitch for the team again this season, regardless of how the criminal investigation unfolds. Many wonder whether he’ll ever pitch for them again.
MLB could ultimately decide that. Under a joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy agreed to with players in August 2015, the league has the autonomy to issue punishment even without a criminal conviction. Fourteen players have been suspended between 15 and 162 games since the policy was put into place; another, Felipe Vazquez, is on indefinite leave after his May conviction for statutory sexual assault, sexual abuse of children and child pornography, among other charges.
Bauer has not been punished by MLB, though the evidence and testimony presented in this hearing could affect the length of a potential suspension. He remains on administrative leave, which has been extended five times with consent by the MLB Players Association, the latest through Friday. He is still being paid and accruing service time but has not been around the team.
MLB officials also could consider the facts in a separate case, reported Saturday by The Washington Post, involving an Ohio woman who accused him of punching and choking her during sex without consent in their three-year relationship. She filed a restraining order petition last summer, while Bauer was playing in Cincinnati, and withdrew it six weeks later. Bauer’s agents on Saturday called the latest allegations “categorically false,” The Post reported.
The Ohio woman’s attorney, Joseph Darwal, told The Post in a statement that she had no interest in coming forward until the newspaper reached out because “she feared the possible consequences of doing so, as seen in what is occurring in California.”
The California woman’s legal team said in a recent filing that she “has been made subject to an immeasurable amount of criticism from the media, the general public, and from Trevor’s team” since the restraining order became public.
In response to the woman’s original petition to the judge, Bauer’s attorneys have contended that the relationship was entirely consensual and that the woman agreed to be choked and struck. Their filings include scores of text messages they say back up their assertion.
An Aug. 3 filing includes text messages said to have been exchanged between Bauer and the woman after their first encounter, on April 22. It begins with the woman asking Bauer to wear pink socks.
“Buttttt offffff when its time to choke me out,” reads a text said to be from the woman to Bauer.
“You want to go out huh? Mmmmm,” Bauer responds, according to the filing.
“Si That was a game changer,” she is said to answer.
The filing says Bauer texted, “Tell me more,” and she replied, “Never been more turned on in my life.” And later: “Gimmee all the pain. Rawr.”
Bauer’s lawyers wrote that “after their second encounter on May 16, 2021, she sent several text messages to her cousin about their encounter.”
According to the filing, the woman at first texts, “My face is f—ed up,” and then asks, “Please dont show anyone but like holy s—.” She then sends her cousin a picture of her face.
The filing says the cousin writes back, “As long as it was consensual I don’t have to kill him,” and the woman replies, “It was consensual but like didn’t expect two black eyes?? Like he def took it too far don’t you think lol.”
In response to the those texts being filed in court, Freedman, one of the woman’s attorneys, sent a statement that read, in part, “the law is extraordinarily clear: supposed ‘consent’ of the victim is not a defense to assault and battery, especially when it results in bodily harm.”
In her initial petition, the woman said that when she awoke from being choked by her hair during that second encounter, “I was so disoriented I did not remember where I was or who I had been with before I lost consciousness.”
She said Bauer resumed having sex with her, punched her in the jaw and head, then choked her with her hair until she lost consciousness. She said she awoke with pain behind both ears and a split lip before Bauer “began punching me repeatedly in the vagina.”
In their latest filings, Bauer’s attorneys said the woman “submitted photos of her alleged injuries that appear to be edited or filtered in a manner to give a misleading or false impression.”
Further, his team said, the woman was seeking the restraining order only to gain publicity that compels a financial settlement. They presented texts said to show the woman telling a friend: “They think he’s gonna try to settle with me offer me major cash then make me sign an nda.”
Bauer’s attorneys then state, “No settlements or cash offers have or ever will be made.”