Content warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault allegations.
Trevor Bauer is suing The Athletic and its former reporter, Molly Knight, for defamation, accusing the sports news website and the journalist of “creating and spreading the false narrative” that Bauer had fractured a woman’s skull during a sexual encounter.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against The Athletic Media Co. and Knight, alleges two counts of defamation, ESPN reports.
The filing stems from accusations made last June when a 27-year-old San Diego woman was granted a temporary restraining order against Bauer after accusing him of turning consensual sex into an all-out assault. She alleged that the pitcher punched her about the face and body, strangled her, and penetrated her anally without her consent over two occasions at his Pasadena home that spring.
The Athletic reported on June 30 that “there were signs of a basilar skull fracture,” citing a declaration by the woman.
The lawsuit states, “CT scan results included in the medical records attached to the complainant’s declaration and possessed by The Athletic definitively concluded that she had ‘no acute fracture.'”
In an email to ESPN, a spokesman for The Athletic said, “We are aware of legal action taken by Trevor Bauer. We’re confident in our reporting and plan to defend against the claim.”
Knight, who announced she was leaving The Athletic on July 30, 2021, did not respond to the network’s request for comment.
Bauer’s suit continues, “Defendants acted with actual malice because they deliberately ignored the truth — which was evident in the medical records possessed by The Athletic — and because the defendants’ defamatory statements were part of a campaign to harass Mr. Bauer.”
The Athletic published a complaint from Bauer’s people stating, “Trevor Bauer’s representatives emphasized that medical records showed that while the woman was initially diagnosed with signs of a basilar skull fracture, a subsequent CT scan found no acute fracture.”
The lawsuit calls that addendum, “insufficient and inaccurate” claiming that “an emergency room physician observed that the complainant presented with indications of a possible basilar skull fracture, which was ruled out by the only CT scans the woman had.”
In August, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman denied the alleged victim’s request for a permanent restraining order, ruling that Bauer posed no threat to her and that he had not exceeded any limits she set because she did not express those limits to him.
Last month, prosecutors declined to file criminal charges against Bauer, with L.A. District Attorney George Gascon saying in a statement, “After a thorough review of all the available evidence… the People are unable to prove the relevant charges beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Bauer was placed on administrative leave last July 2 under the joint domestic violence and sexual assault policy of Major League Baseball and the players’ association, ESPN notes. The leave has been repeatedly extended and currently runs through April 16.
When D.A. Gascon chose not to pursue charges, Bauer posted a Youtube video titled “The Truth,” in which he denied all the allegations, as he and his lawyers have consistently done since they were first leveled, claiming that anything which may have occurred between Bauer and the accuser was entirely consensual.
“I agreed to have consensual sex,” the woman said under oath when she filed for the initial restraining order. “However I did not agree or consent to what he did next. I did not agree to be sexually assaulted.”
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