(Trigger Warning: sexual assault, choking, violence during sex)
“I had never seen that before. It was, frankly, alarming.”
That was the testimony of Kelly Valencia, the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) nurse who examined the California woman seeking an order of protection against L.A. Dodgerspitcher Trevor Bauer. She was referring to the woman having purple bruising around her genitals. SART nurses are typically the first line of evidence gathering in sexual assault cases, and they see a lot of women with a lot of different injuries. Having one testify she’d never seen that kind of bruising before was a significant moment in the two-day order of protection hearing.
The testimony came after the Washington Post reported that a second woman had come forward to reveal that she, too, had obtained an order of protection against Bauer in June of 2020 in Ohio, alleging that he punched and choked her during sex. Allegations that are remarkably similar to the ones being levi at Bauer by a California woman now.
The men around Bauer — his teammates and team employees — seem shocked by the allegations made against the Cy Young-winning pitcher, and have been defensive about what they might have known or should have known. The Dodgers haven’t said much about any of the claims made against Bauer (after initially whiffing on the whole situation by insisting on keeping Bauer in the lineup until Major League Baseball took the decision out of their hands and put the pitcher on the exempt list). But yesterday, Dodgers President Stan Kasten issued an internal memo trying to justify the way the team has handled their ace, which was subsequently obtained by the L.A. Times. Kasten said, in part:
- “The Dodgers had no knowledge of the temporary restraining order that was issued against Bauer and placed under seal in Ohio or of the allegations made in connection with that order, until recent reports…
- In late June, when we learned of the allegations regarding incidents in April and May of this year, we immediately reported them to MLB, and we have supported and cooperated fully with MLB’s ongoing investigation since it began.”
We’ll get to the first part in a minute, but the second bullet point is rich — it’s literally the bare minimum the team is required to do, and not really something they should be tooting their horns over. Don’t forget, the Dodgers, like many teams, have a history of not knowing what their players are doing. In 2015, the Washington Post reported that Giants manager Gabe Kapler, then director of player development for the Dodgers, failed to report the sexual and physical assault of a 17-year-old girl by two minor league players and two other adults, instead suggesting a dinner with himself, the girl’s grandmother, and the two players in question. Another woman claims then-Dodger Yasiel Puig (also represented by Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba) followed her into a bathroom at the Staples Center in 2018 and sexually assaulted her. In May of 2019, Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias was arrested for allegedly shoving a woman to the ground in the parking lot of an L.A. shopping mall. All of this happened under Kasten’s watch, and every time, the Dodgers have pleaded ignorance.
Now that the details of the restraining order obtained against Bauer in Ohio have come out, it’s hard to believe that no one in Major League Baseball had an inkling that Bauer had serious issues with women. The Ohio woman, who was legally an adult, but not of legal age to drink, was reportedly clad in only her underwear and a T-shirt when the police arrived at Bauer’s Cleveland-area apartment in 2017. Per the Washington Post, the woman attempted to show police pictures of what Bauer had allegedly done to her eyes on a previous occasion, claiming he punched and choked her during sex. The police instead believed Bauer’s story that the woman had showed up at his apartment, unannounced and unwanted, and arrested her for underage drinking. But as the woman’s attorney, Timothy Hess, pointed out to the Post, Bauer’s building had a locked lobby and she had been at his apartment for hours before the police arrived.
It wasn’t until 2020 that the Ohio woman sought a restraining order against Bauer, who allegedly sent her threatening text messages. According to the Post:
“The Post also obtained copies of messages Bauer allegedly sent the woman, which her lawyers said prompted her to seek an order of protection. “I don’t feel like spending time in jail for killing someone,” reads one. “And that’s what would happen if I saw you again.”
“The Post also obtained copies of messages allegedly from Bauer to the Ohio woman. In one undated Snapchat message, Bauer allegedly wrote: “Like the only reason I’d ever consider seeing you again is to choke you unconscious punch you in the face shove my first up your a— skull f—- you and kick you out naked. And obviously I would never do something like that to anyone. So cant even enjoy the one thing I sometimes enjoyed with you.”
Deadspin reached out to the Ohio woman’s lawyer, Joseph Darwal of Obral, Silk, and Pal LLC, who gave us the following statement:
“The MLB should be applauded for their handling of this investigation. Although they could not have known of our client’s story prior to the tragic events in California, their approach is both thorough and respectful. Our client is currently assisting the MLB in this investigation; however, as the process is ongoing I cannot comment further at this time.”
But given that a staff member at the Cuyahoga County Clerk’s Office told Deadspin than anyone with the name of a party could come down to their office and get information about the order of protection, it strains credulity to believe that word of a star major league pitcher being the subject of an order of protection never got back to either of the Cleveland Indians or the Cincinnati Reds, who both have denied knowledge of the 2017 incident and the 2020 restraining order. But whether or not Bauer’s alleged predilection for violently attacking women during sex was common knowledge in MLB front offices, there was one group for whom none of the allegations against Bauer came as a surprise: women baseball fans.
Bauer has always been what is known by the Twitterati as “extremely online” — a guy who rarely had a thought in his head that he didn’t tweet out, consequences be damned. His habit of saying anything and everything in a public forum was embraced by many sportswriters as refreshing, and we got all kinds of puff pieces on how “interesting” Trevor Bauer was, particularly when he held court on which pitchers were cheating, and his love of his drones.
But in the past few years, those of us who found Bauer merely annoying, previously saw a much darker side of him. After a female fan replied to Bauer’s obvious attempt at courting a trade to the Dodgers (he was pitching for Cincinnati at the time) by saying “we don’t want you here!,” Bauer began quote-tweeting her and replying, knowing exactly what would happen. As my colleague Jesse Spector wrote at the time:
“Being the bully that he is, Bauer decided to amplify this tweet by quoting it, and asking if he should cancel his trip to Los Angeles.”
The woman’s account, as Bauer knew would happen, filled up with quote tweets from the worst of Bauer’s 381,000 followers, telling her off in various and sundry ways. Bauer was only responsible for his own tweet, of course, but it’s textbook targeting for harassment, typically misogynist of him, and — even if you don’t believe those things — an extreme case of punching down instead of up.
When pressed about his actions by another Twitter user — and again, he’s been down this road before, he knows exactly what he’s doing — Bauer did another quote tweet, saying, ‘Sorry fans. Can no longer interact with you and have a good time on social media. Justin has spoken. It’s been real.’”
That wasn’t the first time Bauer had mass-harassed a woman online. Back in 2019, Bauer had done the same thing to another female fan. As Deadspin’s writer Laura Wagner wrote, Bauer “upped the creepiness, scrolling back through her old tweets to dig up ‘dirt.’ He kept tweeting long after the woman stopped responding.”
There’s a legitimate argument to be made that the Dodgers have no excuse for not knowing about the Ohio order of protection when they signed Bauer. After all, MLB teams have resources few others have when it comes to investigations. But it’s undeniable that the Dodgers knew about Bauer’s history of harassing women online. Veteran MLB reporter Molly Knight even wrote about it after Bauer came after her, unsolicited, in 2018.
“Surely, the Dodgers are aware of this problem. They may even have read about New York Daily News writer Kate Feldman, who said she endured death threats and Holocaust jokes in her mentions for months after Bauer told his followers to go after her. But it obviously didn’t bother the Dodgers because they went ahead and guaranteed Bauer the highest average annual salary for a player in baseball history anyway.
It’s no longer enough to just blame players for being cruel or abusive online. The Dodgers must now answer for this as well. They bought Bauer for $102 million. They now own all of this. Are they cool with stuff he’s tweeted in the past? Will they monitor his feeds going forward and suspend him if he crosses the line? Where exactly is that line? Have they interviewed women who work in the organizations where he’s played to find out if any of this harassment extended offline?”
What women understand, that men seem not to, is that harassing women online is often a red flag that something much darker lurks beneath the surface of the man behind the harassment. Too often, it’s indicative of not a “quirky” or “complex” guy, but one that has a seething rage against women. One that he feels is so normal that he can vent it in a place as public as Twitter and believe there will be no consequences. Probably, he’ll be cheered by a segment of his followers that feel the same way.
The Cleveland woman obtained her order of protection against Bauer partially due to threats he allegedly made about leaking a video to her family of her having sex. Per the Washington Post article, Bauer allegedly texted the woman, “I’d really hate for him to see a video of you getting f—-ed.” When the woman asked Bauer why he was threatening her, he allegedly responded, “Haha I’m just joking with relax… That’s completely off-limits… But… assuming it wasn’t you and it was a completely different situation, gotta admit, that would be funny.”
Only it’s not funny at all. And only a certain kind of guy thinks it would be.
The Post verified the text came from a number once registered to Bauer. And the response is one all too familiar to women who are threatened online. The threat, followed by the ol’ standby “I was just joking.” The attempt to minimize the threat by claiming it was funny, it was satire, that the woman “doesn’t get it” and is a humorless asshole. She needs to “relax” and “calm down.” It’s gaslighting of the highest degree.
Certainly, an alleged habit of choking and punching women during sex, while bruising their genitals to the point of shocking a SART nurse, doesn’t paint a picture of a guy who loves and cherishes women. But it was all there for everyone to see. Bauer’s instinct wasn’t just to ignore or laugh off the women who criticized him on Twitter, it was to destroy them in front of all his followers. It was to teach them a lesson, so they regretted ever taking him on. It was revenge.
All of that was out there for the Dodgers to find.
Yesterday, Bauer’s California accuser testified that he choked, punched, and had anal sex with her, against her will. Bauer’s attorney responded by trying to slut-shame the woman, pointing out that Bauer wasn’t the only MLB player she’d had a sexual relationship with. That information isn’t at all relevant to whether or not the woman made a case for a permanent order of protection from Bauer, but it is an argument that appeals to a certain demographic of Bauer’s fans. The same fans who buy Bauer’s “she wanted it” argument.
Women had been trying to warn MLB and its teams about Bauer for years before the California and Ohio women came forward. In the wake of the Brandon Taubman incident, the Jared Porter incident, the Mickey Callaway incident, and now the Trevor Bauer incidents, maybe it’s time someone started listening to us.
If you have been sexually assaulted and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit its website for confidential help and advice.