A Los Angeles judge sided with Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer on Thursday and denied a five-year restraining order requested by a woman who said he choked her into unconsciousness and punched her repeatedly during two sexual encounters.
In denying the civil domestic violence restraining order after a four-day hearing, Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman said that according to the 27-year-old San Diego woman’s testimony, Bauer honored her boundaries when she set them. And she said Bauer couldn’t know the boundaries she didn’t express to him.
“We consider in a sexual encounter that when a woman says no she should be believed,” Gould-Saltman said, “so what should we do when she says yes?”
The woman’s attorney, Lisa Helfend Meyer, said in her closing arguments that Bauer was a “monster” who far exceeded what the woman consented to, especially in punching her in the face and vagina and leaving serious bruising that was captured in photographs. Bauer also did things that the woman couldn’t consent to because she had been choked unconscious, including, according to her testimony, having anal sex with her while she was out, Meyer said.
“Let me be clear, the injuries as shown in the photographs are terrible,” said the judge, who issued her decision about five minutes after closing arguments were completed. However, she added, in her communications with Bauer the woman “was not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the parties’ first encounter, and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.”
Bauer had no visible reaction in court to the decision.
“We are grateful to the Los Angeles Superior Court for denying this request,” his lawyer Shawn Holley said outside the courthouse as he stood silently at her side. “We had expected this outcome since the petition was filed in June.”
It was a victory for Bauer in his public fight to clear his name, but serious hurdles remain, including a criminal investigation by police in Pasadena, California, and a probe by Major League Baseball.
“Allegations made against Trevor Bauer continue to be investigated by MLB’s Department of Investigations (DOI) under our Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy,” the league said in a statement after the decision. “We will comment further at the appropriate time.”
MLB put Bauer on paid administrative leave on July 2, and has extended the status through Aug. 27.
The judge cited the criminal investigation earlier Thursday in allowing Bauer to remain off the witness stand at the hearing, after the woman’s attorneys called him to testify.
Bauer said “yes, your honor” when Gould-Saltman asked if he intended to follow his lawyer’s advice and invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
That was the only time he spoke during the four-day hearing.
The woman took the stand for three days of dramatic and emotional testimony, crying frequently as she recounted how her excitement and emotional connection with Bauer turned into pain, confusion and fear after the two meetings in April and May.
“I felt like my soul left my body, and I was terrified,” she said. “I couldn’t fight back.”
At one point she wrapped her own hair around her neck as she sat on the witness stand, to show how she said Bauer had choked her.
Meyer, who had no comment outside court after the decision, said during her closing argument that she applauded her client for being “able to stand up to this monster and do the right thing.” She added that in her testimony she “revealed Trevor Bauer for who he really is, for all the world to see.”
But Holley said in her own closing that the purpose of the kind of order the woman sought is not to bring justice or publicly expose a person’s behavior, but to prevent future domestic violence and keep the two people involved apart.
“There is no one on the planet who would believe that there is any possibility that in this life or the next one, on this planet or another, that these two people will ever be in any kind of sexual relationship again,” Holley said.
The judge agreed, saying that Bauer did nothing to pursue or threaten the woman after the second and final time they met in person.
Holley focused throughout the week on messages the woman sent to Bauer between the two meetings.
“She says it was a ‘game changer’ when she was choked out,” Holley said during her closing argument. “She said ‘get a couple of slaps in there.’ She said ‘I’ve never been more turned on in my life.’ She said, ‘Give me all the pain.’”
“She wonders if it is her fault,” Holley said. “And she is right to wonder that.”
The judge cited the messages in her decision, and said the woman’s petition for the restraining order, which did not include them, was “materially misleading.”
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they have been victims of sexual assault.
Earlier this year, after winning his first Cy Young with the Cincinnati Reds last season, Bauer agreed to a $102 million, three-year contract to join his hometown Dodgers.