GLENDALE, Ariz. — In February 2015, according to a police report and emails obtained through open records requests, a 17-year-old girl sent an alarming email to Gabe Kapler, then director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The girl had been partying a few nights before with two Dodgers minor leaguers and two women, she wrote, drinking Ciroc vodka and dancing in one of the players’ hotel rooms here, near the Dodgers’ spring training complex.
After consuming about half the bottle, the girl wrote, she vomited on the bed, angering the two women, who threw her out of the room, kicking and punching her in the process. Rather than come to her aid, according to the girl, one of the Dodgers players videotaped the beating on his phone, and then posted the video on Snapchat.
“The boys got me drunk and the girls beat me up,” she wrote. “Your player . . . videotaped it all.”
Kapler didn’t contact police, records show, nor did others with the Dodgers he consulted. Instead, Kapler tried to arrange a dinner with the girl and the players, and engaged in discussions with the girl’s grandmother.
The next week, the girl’s case manager with Arizona’s Department of Child Safety contacted police. When officers interviewed the girl hours later, according to the report, she offered an even darker account of the evening: Before the beating, the girl told police, one of the Dodgers players had sexually assaulted her as she lay on the bed, struggling to remain conscious.
The incident, which has not been previously reported, is the latest to raise questions about oversight of the Dodgers’ minor league and scouting operations, currently one focus of a Justice Department investigation of possible corruption in Major League Baseball’s dealings in Latin America.
In a written statement, Kapler, now the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager, said his actions were in line with club policy and advice offered by Dodgers’ lawyers and human resources personnel. He was not aware a sexual assault was alleged until he was contacted this week by a reporter, Kapler wrote.
David Schindler, outside counsel for the Dodgers, also said in a phone interview that neither Kapler nor those he consulted were aware a sex crime was alleged when they decided not to contact police.
“The Dodgers acted appropriately, and any suggestion that they should have done something different is simply unfair and inaccurate,” Schindler said.
After the girl made the sex assault allegation, police in Glendale opened an investigation, but officers quickly encountered significant difficulties. The Dodgers hired an attorney for the player accused of sexual assault, and the lawyer told police his client wouldn’t speak with them, the police report said. And the girl, whom police suspected was a victim of sex trafficking, decided she didn’t want to cooperate. No charges were filed.
The accuser, now 21, still lives in the Glendale area, according to court records, which listed her as “transient” in an unrelated case in December. Efforts to reach her this week were unsuccessful.
The day after the alleged assault, on Feb. 23, 2015, the girl’s grandmother emailed Kapler. She initially had called the Hampton Inn, according to a police report, and the hotel connected her with a Dodgers official, who directed the grandmother to Kapler.
In the email, which the grandmother later provided to police, she explained that she had just received a troubling phone call from her 17-year-old granddaughter, who had run away from home six months ago. Her granddaughter had been at a party the night before with two women and two Dodgers players, the grandmother wrote.
“The girls were provided alcohol, and encouraged to drink. They were asked to dance, and according to my granddaughter she told them she didn’t know how . . . they encouraged her to drink some more,” the grandmother wrote.
After her granddaughter threw up on the bed, the woman wrote, “the men became very upset with her and at some point the two girls beat her up mostly about the head pretty good.”
That same day, the 17-year-old sent her email to Kapler, detailing her version of the events.
Kapler replied quickly with a phone call, the grandmother later told police, and he apologized and offered to help the granddaughter, “in any way she needed (money for the doctor, food or a place to stay),” the grandmother later told police.
Kapler, in his statement this week, denied offering the girl or her grandmother money.
“There was never an offer for money of any sort nor any payments considered or made,” Kapler wrote.
When he spoke with the grandmother in 2015, according to the police report, Kapler suggested he arrange a dinner meeting with him, the two players, and the 17-year-old.
Two days later, the grandmother emailed Kapler to let him know the girl had no interest in a dinner reunion with the players.
“She feels scared that she is being set up for something bad. Now I am feeling scared that she really has to look over her shoulder. I really appreciate you trying to help her,” the grandmother wrote.
“This dinner is our initiative,” Kapler replied. “We will ensure [the girl’s] safety. We believe we can teach valuable lessons to all involved through this method of follow up.”
A few hours later, the grandmother emailed Kapler again. Her granddaughter was now homeless, she wrote; her boyfriend had just kicked her out of his apartment.
“Is there any way you can help her?” she wrote.
Kapler didn’t reply to this email, records show.
His proposed dinner meeting never happened, the girl later told police.
Law enforcement first learned of the incident a week later, when the 17-year-old was arrested in Phoenix for shoplifting at a Walmart. Police turned her over to Arizona DCS, and when she told case managers she’d been beaten by two women the week before, one of them contacted police.
A few hours later, two officers arrived at a group home for underage victims of sex trafficking to interview the girl.
According to the girl’s interview with police, she had never met the Dodgers players before that night. She had met the two women just recently “through Facebook,” she explained. One of women was dating one of the Dodgers players, while the other player, whom she identified in the police report, was single.
As the girl described the events of the night, as set forth in the police report, she added details she hadn’t mentioned to her grandmother. At one point, she said she began to feel sick and decided to lie down on the bed. While the two women and one of the players were in the bathroom, the other lay down next to her and slid his hand under her bra, and then down the front of her pants, she told police. It ended quickly, she said, when the others came out of the bathroom.
Not long after that, the girl said, she got sick on the bed. The women threw water on her, and dragged her from the room, kicking and punching her along the way. The officers took photos of bruises on her left arm, and swelling near one of her eyes.
The girl told police she didn’t want to pursue the case, but two of the caseworkers with DCS — legally, her guardian at that point — said they wanted to press charges: sexual abuse against the Dodgers player, and assault against the two women. An officer called the grandmother, who forwarded her emails with Kapler.
Within hours, the girl ran away from the group home. A few weeks later, according to the report, police got a call from attorney David Derickson, who said he represented a Dodgers player. At his direction, the lawyer explained, the player would not speak to police about the night in question. The Washington Post is not naming the player because he was never charged with a crime.
In a phone interview last week, Derickson confirmed the Dodgers hired him to represent a player and denied his client sexually assaulted the girl that night.
“That was something that happened a number of years ago, and I felt we did what we needed to do to clear up whether or not there would be any charges,” Derickson said.
In April 2015, a few weeks after the incident, the Dodgers released the player, who played one more season in the minors before ending his baseball career.
Two months after opening the investigation, Glendale police decided to move on without making any arrest in May 2015. Two case managers with state child services believed the girl had been sexually assaulted, they told police, but the girl,who had recently resurfaced in Glendale, wouldn’t cooperate with the investigation.
According to the police report, the girl told an officer that “it wouldn’t help her situation now. She didn’t want to deal with it.”
Julie Tate contributed to this report.