An L.A. Superior Court judge denied a restraining order request filed by a woman who accused Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer of sexual assault following four days of emotional testimony.
Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman said there was a distinction between what the accuser thought and what she communicated to Bauer.
"When she set boundaries, [Bauer] respected them," the judge told the courtroom following closing arguments.
While ruling that Bauer and his accuser did have a "dating relationship" under the law - a condition for issuing a restraining order - the judge said she did not consider Bauer a threat to the woman.
With Bauer standing silently by her side, attorney Shawn Holley made a brief statement to the media outside the courthouse. Neither Holley nor Bauer took questions.
"We are grateful to the Los Angeles Superior Court for denying the request for a permanent restraining order and dissolving the temporary restraining order against Mr. Bauer today," Holley said. "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."
Gould-Saltman, who also dissolved the existing temporary restraining order, ruled that Bauer "did not coerce her or threaten her into sexual activity." She said testimony established that the accuser's Instagram direct messages and text messages to Bauer indicated to him that she "wanted rough sex in the first encounter and rougher sex in the second."
The woman said during her 12 hours of testimony during the hearing that she engaged in two consensual sexual encounters with Bauer, and her attorneys argued that when Bauer punched her repeatedly in face, vagina and buttocks during the second encounter, it constituted assault.
The lead attorneys, Holley for Bauer and Lisa Meyer for the accuser, gave impassioned closing statements. The judge made her ruling so soon, reading from a prepared statement about five minutes after the hearing concluded, that she appeared to have prepared most of it before Thursday's proceedings.
Both attorneys talked about the two dramatically different sides of the accuser's personality and how that played into her encounters with Bauer.
Over direct and text messages, "she comes across as extremely confident, very self-assured," Holley said. "She portrayed herself as a pro. . . . But inside she said she is scared and seeks attention. She puts on a front. She pretends.
"Trevor, in contrast, is exactly who he says he is. ... He states his [dating] rules publicly. He has made it clear to the world and to her. So she goes to his house knowing what to expect."
Holley emphasized that the accuser's brazen, witty and often profane text messages led him to believe she was experienced in what both sides agree was "rough sex."
"You are entering into a danger zone. And the best you can do when you enter into an encounter is to have as much of an understanding with your partner as possible," Holley said. "It is hard to have a meeting of the minds when one of the people has sent their fake ambassador to the negotiating table.
"He doesn't know her, all he can presume is to do what she wants and don't do what she doesn't want."
Near the end of her 45-minute closing argument, Holley addressed the request for the domestic violence restraining order.
"No one on the planet would believe that there is any possibility that these two people are ever going to be in any sort of sexual encounter ever again."
In the woman's request for a temporary restraining order June 28, "she presents an incredibly misleading account of what happened between them," Holley said. "... The way she describes what happened and what she leaves out completely changes the narrative and the truth."
Meyer argued that what Bauer did to the woman constituted sexual assault, giving basis for a permanent restraining order even if he and the woman had no intention of seeing each other again.
"Trevor Bauer is a monster," Meyer said. "He was aggressively abused as a child. As an adult, he became the abuser. He stalks his victims through the internet."
Gould-Saltman stopped Meyer at that point, telling her sternly it was the second time she had introduced something not supported by evidence. "That's No. 2. No. 3 and your argument is over," the judge said.
Meyer argued that the woman could not have given full consent to anal sex during the first sexual encounter or to getting punched during the second encounter because she was unconscious after Bauer choked her with her own hair.
"A person who is unconscious cannot give consent, and more importantly, even if given beforehand, cannot be withdrawn because they are unconscious," Meyer said. "There is no doubt that sex when someone is unconscious is not consensual. And even if it was, a person cannot consent to being assaulted."
Meyer objected to Holley's portrayal of Hill as attention-seeking, invoking the MeToo movement and accusing her of victim-blaming. "I don't understand in the year 2021 how anyone can make those kinds of statements," she said. "This isn't the 1950s."
The woman was asked during her testimony why she waited 45 days to get a temporary restraining order and she replied that she wasn't convinced Bauer would be arrested and wanted to seek protection for herself.
Meyer also asked her what had changed in her life.
"I lost my job, I lost my place of residence, I had to take a leave from my other job," the woman said. "It's still hard to fall asleep. ... I've lost over 10 pounds. And just the sadness I had to live with every day, and the fear I have of Trevor Bauer, it's brutal."
The ruling does not necessarily mean a decision from Major League Baseball on whether to discipline Bauer is imminent. For now, investigations of Bauer continue by MLB and the Pasadena Police Department, with the focus not on whether Bauer should be restrained from contacting his accuser, but on whether his conduct alleged by the accuser merits criminal charges or MLB suspension.
Bauer's paid leave from the Dodgers expires Friday. If Bauer and the players' union decline to agree to the league's request to extend the leave, as the parties have five times previously, then Manfred could levy an unpaid suspension based on the evidence MLB has collected, plus what it has learned in the hearing.
But the possibility that Bauer still could be charged with a crime means that the league has not been able to conduct its own interview with him. The domestic violence policy requires Bauer to submit to an interview with MLB as part of a league investigation. If Manfred were to have to levy a suspension now, he would do so without having heard from Bauer.
If Bauer and the union decline to extend the leave, Manfred also could let the Dodgers discipline him, at which point the team could reinstate him, cut him and pay off the balance of his $102-million contract, or cut him and force him to file a grievance, in which an arbitrator would decide whether Bauer would get all or some of that money.
Times staff writer Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.