After a night of what was described as “rough sex” in 2021, a woman accused Major League Baseball pitcher Trevor Bauer of sexual assault. The league put him on an extended suspension. She unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against him, and prosecutors declined to bring charges. Bauer filed a lawsuit accusing her of defamation; she sued him, alleging assault and that he choked her until she lost consciousness.
The parties have since settled. Bauer paid her no money, and he retained permission to speak out — and he has, so has she. Bauer’s suspension was reduced from 324 games to 194.
Too often when accusations are made, there is a default to believe the person making them.
For example, in 2022 a woman on Duke’s volleyball team contended that a man made racial slurs to her during a match against Brigham Young University. Even though an investigation found those allegations to be false, they were reported as fact – and things escalated to the point where South Carolina’s women’s basketball team refused to play BYU. The truth didn’t matter because the accusations were reported as factual before the first witness was interviewed.
For employers, an accusation should prompt a fair, objective, and thorough investigation. No one is guilty until proven innocent. Everyone deserves fairness in the process.
Frequently, after an investigation, the allegations are founded, and the investigator concludes that what the accuser said happened – happened.
It is the employer’s responsibility, and ultimately the investigator’s role, to find out what happened and determine who is telling the truth. Evidence sometimes includes only statements of witnesses, and the investigator must evaluate credibility to make findings of fact.
Texts between Bauer and his accuser as well as a video taken by the accuser after the alleged assault were, in my opinion, exculpatory. For example, between the first and second sexual interactions, the accuser reportedly texted Bauer to say that he would have to take his socks off before he “choked” her “out,” and she texted him, “Gimme all the pain. Rawr” and texted him, “Mmm get a couple slaps in there and then another handprint on my @$$.”
When it comes to sexual assault, the fact that a person consensually goes to someone’s home or even engages in some sexual activity does not necessarily mean that the entire interaction was consensual. Sexual activity and consent can be withdrawn at any time. There is ample evidence to support a finding that Bauer made a big mistake to engage in rough sex with a woman he met on Instagram and hardly knew – but he didn’t commit a sexual assault, and their sexual interaction was consensual.
Bauer had the means to defend himself but at a huge cost with his career being put on pause for over two years.
False allegations can cause victims to pause bringing allegations forward for fear they will not be believed. This is why it is so important to come to the right conclusion in these cases.