Trevor Bauer withdraws defamation suit against the Athletic

Trevor Bauer withdraws defamation suit against the Athletic

Former Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer withdrew his defamation suit against the Athletic on Tuesday after the website publicly stated it “did not intend to state or imply” that a woman who accused the pitcher of sexual assault two years ago suffered a fractured skull.

The Athletic, citing medical records filed by the woman, reported that doctors had noted “signs of basilar skull fracture.” The outlet later clarified that the woman had been “initially diagnosed” with a skull fracture, but that a fracture had been ruled out by a subsequent CT scan.

Bauer nonetheless alleged the clarification was “insufficient and inaccurate” because the Athletic had the medical records to show that there was a suspicion of a skull fracture, but never any such diagnosis.

The records showed the woman had been diagnosed with “acute head injury” and “assault by manual strangulation.”

On Tuesday, the Athletic amended its story thusly: “This story was an account of legal papers filed by a California woman who claimed she had been injured by Trevor Bauer during rough sex. The story has been revised to clarify that a CT scan found no evidence the woman suffered a skull fracture and emergency room medical records attached to the woman’s request concluded she suffered no such fracture. The Athletic did not intend to state or imply that the woman suffered a fractured skull.”

Bauer also had sued Molly Knight, who then worked for the Athletic, over tweets that had included the terms “cracked skull” and “fractured skull.” According to a court filing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, those tweets were “withdrawn” and, in conjunction with the amended story, Bauer agreed to withdraw his legal action against Knight and the Athletic.

Bauer pursued similar action against Deadspin in a New York court, but the judge in that case threw out the suit. U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty said the Deadspin report did not substantially misrepresent the woman’s allegations in her request for a restraining order — that is, she alleged sexual assault that caused her serious injuries.

“Whether those injuries included a skull fracture or simply ‘significant head and facial trauma’ and bruising does not change the nature of the accusations,” Crotty wrote, “nor would it produce a different effect on the mind of the reader.”

Bauer also has filed a defamation suit against the woman who made the allegations. She filed a countersuit alleging sexual assault and battery. A trial is scheduled for next February.

In 2021, Bauer signed a three-year, $102-million contract with the Dodgers. He made 17 starts before the woman reported her allegations, prompting Major League Baseball to put him on investigative leave.

In the interim, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office investigated Bauer for “assault by means likely to produce great bodily harm, sodomy of a sleeping person and domestic violence” but declined to charge him with a crime, saying there was insufficient evidence.

Under the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy, a player can be suspended even if he is not charged with a crime. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Bauer for 324 games, a term truncated last December to 194 games.

The Dodgers then released him. Bauer, unsigned by any other major league team, agreed to a one-year contract with Japan’s Yokohama BayStars. In 13 starts there, he is 6-2 with a 3.26 earned-run average.