Trevor Bauer’s defamation case against accuser’s former attorney could be thrown out

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Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer and his attorneys misrepresented the findings of the judge who denied a restraining order to a woman who accused him of sexual assault, according to a tentative ruling posted on a federal court website Friday.

The ruling, if it stands, would throw out Bauer’s defamation case against Fred Thiagarajah, a former attorney for the accuser. U.S. District Court Judge James Selna said either side could ask for a hearing before the ruling is finalized.

Bauer has sued five other parties for defamation, including the accuser, the Athletic and Deadspin. Those cases are pending, as is Bauer’s appeal of his two-year suspension for violating baseball’s policy on sexual assault and domestic violence.


Bauer argued he had been defamed in part because Thiagarajah told the Washington Post “there’s no doubt Mr. Bauer just brutalized” the woman, a finding evidence had “established to 100 percent certainty.” Bauer noted the Los Angeles County district attorney declined to charge him with a crime, and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman denied the woman’s request for a restraining order.

In his tentative ruling, Selna wrote Thiagarajah spoke in his role as an advocate for the woman. Selna also said Bauer “conspicuously omits” in his complaint Thiagarajah’s subsequent comment in the Post story: “The issue was whether or not she consented to the abuse.”

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Wrote Selna: “Judge Gould-Saltman herself stated that [the woman’s] injuries were ‘terrible.’ Bauer does not present any compelling argument as to why Thiagarajah’s using a synonym of the court’s own language misstates the court’s findings. Rather, the state court’s decision to deny [the restraining order] was premised on insufficient evidence of consent and the threat of future harm, not on doubts as to whether Bauer inflicted the ‘terrible’ injuries.”

In her ruling, Gould-Saltman cited “the injuries as shown in the photographs,” which the woman included in the request for the restraining order.

Bauer’s attorneys since have provided the federal court with a video that they claim shows the woman in bed with Bauer, “smirking and uninjured” after the sexual encounter that allegedly resulted in the injuries.

Bauer previously had said in court filings that “the pictures did not reflect what she looked like when she left” his house that day, but the video was the first evidence in support of that allegation.

In the woman’s claim, her attorneys said Bauer had discussed the incident in a call taped by police and “did not dispute that he had punched [the woman] and that doing so resulted in black eyes.”

The woman’s attorneys also said Bauer had punched her in the buttocks, vagina and groin, areas not shown in the video. The woman was examined in a hospital later that day, where she was diagnosed with “acute head injury” and “assault by manual strangulation.”

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