LOS ANGELES — A California woman was denied a restraining order against Trevor Bauer on Thursday when a superior court judge ruled that the woman did not make her boundaries on rough sex clear to the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher during an encounter that left her hospitalized.
Gould-Saltman said that it’s accepted a woman should be believed when she says “no” during a sexual encounter. “So what about when she says yes?” the judge asked rhetorically.
While Gould-Saltman conceded that photos of the woman’s injuries she reviewed were “terrible” and in other cases would result in a “per se condemnation” of the person who inflicted them, she found that the woman was “not ambiguous” about her desire for ever-rougher sex with Bauer and that he “couldn’t know the boundaries which [the woman] didn’t express to him.”
In her testimony this week, the woman said that during sex in May, Bauer choked her unconscious with her hair twice and she awoke to him punching her in her face, cheekbones and vagina. The woman claimed that the force of Bauer’s assault left her unable to speak or even to fully utter a safe word she had given him. The woman, a self-described alcoholic who has been sober for less than two years, said she encouraged the rough sex because she blamed herself after an initial encounter in which he choked her unconscious and allegedly sexually assaulted her. “I just wanted to create another experience where I could live up to what he wanted,” the woman testified earlier in the week.
A forensic nurse examiner who studied and photographed her injuries shortly after the alleged assault testified as to bruises, swellings and lacerations on the woman’s face and head as well as the most significant bruise she had seen in her career on a subject’s vaginal area.
But Gould-Saltman suggested in her decision Thursday that any injuries suffered while the woman was conscious — even if she were unable to tell him to stop — did not form a basis for a restraining order. “She testified that she wasn’t able to speak part of that time, but [Bauer] couldn’t know that,” Gould-Saltman said.
The judge also said that she found the accuser had been “materially misleading” in her court filing that requested a temporary order of protection, in which the woman claimed that Bauer had called or texted her “nonstop.” Gould-Saltman found that his calls to her after learning she had been hospitalized were to inquire as to whether she was okay.
The legal team for Bauer, who has been on paid leave since early July amid ongoing investigations by both Major League Baseball and the Pasadena (Calif.) Police Department, treated the judge’s decision as a significant victory. Bauer’s lawyer Shawn Holley, who during the three-day hearing portrayed the accuser as a liar who plotted to publicize her claims to force Bauer into a large financial settlement, stood with the pitcher and read a statement to reporters outside the courthouse in downtown Los Angeles.
“While we have expected this outcome since the petition was filed in June, we appreciate the court reviewing all relevant information and testimony to make this informed decision,” Holley said. Bauer, who earlier in the day avoided testifying in the hearing by indicating he would plead the fifth on all questions, said nothing to reporters and was then whisked away with his team in a Mazda.
The woman and her lawyers did not comment to reporters following the decision. Her attorney, Lisa Helfend Meyer, said in an emailed statement Thursday: “While our client is disappointed about the judge’s ruling, she is hopeful that Mr. Bauer will voluntarily seek the help he needs to make sure that no other woman in a dating relationship with him suffers the same traumatic fate that she did. That is why she was willing to come forward and endure the victim blaming from Mr. Bauer that she knew would inevitably result.”
The Washington Post does not name alleged victims of domestic violence unless they ask to be identified. The judge’s decision on whether the restraining order should be enforced for five years does not have any direct bearing on whether Bauer may still be criminally charged. MLB declined to comment on the decision, but within hours of it Thursday afternoon, an MLB official said that Bauer’s leave had been extended again, to Aug. 27, under an agreement with the players’ union.
Laurie Levenson, a professor of law at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, said she believed presenting the woman’s allegations in a request for a restraining order was a “strategic error” that could have serious consequences going forward, including setting back any potential prosecution.
“It’s very good for Bauer in regards to this accuser,” Levenson said of the judge’s decision. “Right now his biggest problem is if more accusers come forward because a judge may have found her not to be credible, but there is strength in numbers.”
On Thursday morning, Gould-Saltman decided that Bauer did not have to take the witness stand to assert his right against self-incrimination. The judge referred to the ongoing police investigation, saying that “anything that would be relevant to this case would be relevant to a criminal prosecution.”
When she asked Bauer whether he would plead the fifth when asked about anything “other than your name and occupation,” the pitcher responded, “Yes, your honor.” It was the only statement he made in court during the proceedings, which began in July and were continued until this week at the request of his attorneys.
The hearing was unusual in that, despite the narrow scope of the legal question before the judge, it at times resembled a mini-trial. The hearing was initially scheduled for July 23, slotted into a three-hour window along with the hearings for three other similar orders of protection. Instead, the hearing lasted more than three full days.
Holley countered the woman’s emotional direct testimony with an aggressive cross-examination, including drawing out embarrassing episodes in her life — which the woman protested weren’t relevant — such as her firing from a job because of a previous relationship with an MLB player.
Bauer’s lawyers previously used messages the woman sent to the pitcher and her friends to claim she intentionally encouraged Bauer toward rougher sex to then publicize her allegations in pursuit of a payday. The messages included the woman telling Bauer she was “turned on” when he choked her unconscious during an initial sexual encounter and references in texts to $50 million and a Range Rover that Holley suggested were her planning on a windfall. The woman said those and other texts were only “immature” and “sarcastic” jokes.
“It looks nefarious. It looks sinister,” Holley said of the texts during her closing argument Thursday. “I read that, and it seems to me to be a plot or a plan.”
But the attorney then appeared to back off that assertion, remarking, “I cannot stand here today before this court and say” that the woman plotted out her own injuries for her financial gain.
Holley nonetheless maintained that the accuser was a liar who intentionally deleted messages to cover her tracks and altered photos of her injuries, claims that the woman denied and of which there was little evidence. The attorney cited relatively minor points on which the woman had acknowledged lying — such as misleading her boss to call off work — as evidence that she had made up a key claim that Bauer anally penetrated her without her consent. “That is not believable to me,” Holley said of that allegation. “[She] has admitted to being dishonest.”
But Holley did not outright deny other claims, such as that Bauer punched the woman after choking her unconscious. Instead, Holley said that Bauer believed the woman when she said she wanted rougher sex and that before the encounter he had asked her what she didn’t want and for a safe word. “When you engage in this milieu, you are entering into a danger zone,” Holley said. “And the best you can do if you are entering into such an encounter is to have as much understanding of the other person as possible. . . . All of that happened.”
“She pretended that everything is okay,” Holley continued. “Pretending is a lie.”
Helfend Meyer, the woman’s attorney, rejected that defense during her own closing argument, noting that Bauer warning her that he liked sex “rougher than you” was “not informed consent.”
“I applaud [my client] that she was able to stand up to this monster and do the right thing,” Meyer said in court. “Whatever happens, [she] has revealed who Trevor Bauer is for all the world to see. Hopefully he will get help and not do this in the future and not do this under the guise of consensual rough sex.”
In her testimony earlier in the week, the woman predicted how her allegations would be treated, saying that before police got Bauer’s name out of her, she was determined to keep the alleged assault secret.
She said: “I remember thinking, you know, that anyone I would tell this to is going to say, ‘She asked for it.’”
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