Baseball pitcher Trevor Bauer has dropped his defamation lawsuit against The Athletic as part of an agreement in which the sports website posted a clarification on Tuesday to an article about him from two years ago.
The original article on June 30, 2021, covered allegations made against him by a San Diego woman who engaged in sexual encounters with him at his home in Pasadena in 2021. The woman alleged he went too far with their rough sex and assaulted her, leading her to the hospital in May 2021, when she was diagnosed with an acute head injury and assault by manual strangulation.
“The Athletic did not intend to state or imply that the woman suffered a fractured skull,” the clarification states.
Bauer denied wrongdoing and took issue with how The Athletic and others wrote about the dispute. He sued The Athletic, its former writer Molly Knight and the sports website Deadspin, alleging defamation.
A federal judge in New York dismissed his case against Deadspin in March. The settlement with The Athletic also resolves his claim against Knight, who did not write the article in question but tweeted about him then and since deleted those tweets.
“Mr. Bauer has agreed that The Athletic’s clarification and the withdrawal of Ms. Knight’s tweets makes any further legal action unnecessary, and he has withdrawn his libel action against The Athletic and Ms. Knight,” said a document filed in federal court Tuesday.
The parties agreed to bear their own costs and fees. Bauer said his relations with the San Diego woman were consensual. He never was charged with a crime. But the allegations and the fallout from it essentially brought his Major League Baseball career to a halt and led the former Cy Young Award winner to Japan, where he is pitching professionally now.
He still has lawsuits pending against the San Diego woman and a woman in Arizona, whom he accused of fraud, extortion and fabricating a pregnancy after she accused him of assault in December 2020. Bauer said his encounter with the Arizona woman also was consensual.
What was this case about?
In the case of The Athletic, Bauer’s complaint said the publication and Knight defamed him by “creating and spreading the false narrative that Mr. Bauer fractured the (woman’s) skull.” The woman had in fact filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Bauer in June 2021 that cited her medical symptoms, which included “signs” of a basilar skull fracture. However, that same request included a medical report that said she had no actual fracture.
The Athletic published an article on June 30, 2021, that noted the “signs” of the skull fracture but did not mention the report showing no actual fracture. According to Bauer, this omission defamed him.
“By deliberately omitting the CT scan results, The Athletic exhibited actual malice,” his complaint stated.
In December, the judge had granted the publication’s motion to strike Bauer’s complaint but allowed Bauer to amend his complaint and try again. Bauer did, and the judge considered arguments on whether to strike that, too. But then the lawsuit was resolved this week without the judge ruling on it.
In the case of Knight, she wrote three tweets about the matter that since have been deleted. Bauer took issue with them for similar reasons.
“There seems to be some confusion surrounding the issue of consent but here is some clarity: it’s not possible to consent to a cracked skull,” said one of the tweets from July 2, 2021.
What happened with the other cases?
Bauer also sued the website Deadspin and its editor Chris Baud in March 2022, accusing them of defaming him in an article they published about the same San Diego woman’s allegations. The Deadspin article, dated July 6, 2021, cited the aforementioned article in The Athletic and said the woman had "her skull fractured" in an incident with Bauer, which Bauer said was false and defamatory.
But U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty ruled that while Deadspin’s article contained “technical inaccuracies,” they were not enough to sustain a defamation claim. Bauer then planned to appeal that decision but agreed in late April to dismiss that appeal, ending his case against Deadspin and Baud.
Bauer sued the San Diego woman and her former attorney for defamation as well. But his claim against that attorney, Fred Thiagarajah, was dismissed in November after another judge, James Selna, ruled Bauer didn’t meet his burden to support his case against him.
Bauer’s lawsuit against the woman remains pending in Southern California, but she has countersued him. In the Arizona case, the woman sued him and filed a police report about the alleged incident two years after their encounter. No charges were filed. In January, an attorney for Bauer reported the woman to police alleging extortion. That case was cleared as being “unfounded,” according to the law.
Major League Baseball suspended Bauer last year for 324 games under its domestic violence and assault policy after reviewing various allegations against him. That punishment was reduced to 194 games after Bauer appealed to an independent arbitrator, still the longest punishment in MLB history under that policy. He was reinstated but went unsigned by teams in MLB.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trevor Bauer drops defamation lawsuit over article at The Athletic