There is a disturbing common thread in two stories related to the sports world that broke in the past day or so. That common thread is alleged sexual assault. Let me start with the story that has – at least for the moment – a measure of positivity associated with it; the headline for that story is that LA Dodgers’ pitcher, Trevor Bauer, will not face criminal charges coming out of a police investigation into allegations of sexual assault. That investigation took five months; there were two incidents cited in the allegations; here is how the LA Times reported the bottom line in the matter:
“The district attorney opted not to file assault charges in the first encounter in April and domestic violence charges in the second encounter in May, determining there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bauer committed a crime.”
MLB has held in abeyance an investigation of its own deferring to the police and district attorney as they investigated what could have been a crime. Presumably, the league will now proceed with its own investigation and draw conclusions of its own where the standard may be different from “prove beyond a reasonable doubt.” MLB has a policy regarding domestic violence/sexual assault, and it gives the Commissioner the power to suspend a player accused of such behaviors even if the player is never formally charged or convicted of the charges. Given that circumstance, this matter is not fully resolved.
Now I would certainly hope that the Commissioner would put any investigative action and/or any consideration of a suspension on the back burner at least until the Commissioner and his counterpart at the MLBPA find a way to get a new CBA to end the lockout. In a sense, every major league player is “suspended” at the moment given the lockout situation; any action taken now to suspend Bauer would begin to resemble Dean Wormer’s infamous “Double Secret Probation”.
There is an added wrinkle to the MLB investigation. The LA police investigated allegations leveled by a woman from San Diego. There is another woman in Ohio who has also alleged sexual assault by Bauer at some time in the past. The LA authorities did not investigate that situation for lack of jurisdiction, but it is on the table for MLB and its investigators. I said there was a measure of positivity in this situation:
- Trevor Bauer will not be charged – let alone be convicted – of sexual assault in Los Angeles.
- The district attorney’s final statement is open and available for public scrutiny.
And that second point is precisely what is missing from the other breaking story related to sexual assault in and among the world of sports. In the past couple of days, a woman told the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform in a “congressional roundtable” that she was sexually assaulted by Daniel Snyder – owner of the Washington Commanders. This is an accusation over and above the smarmy level of behaving like a Peeping Tom at a cheerleaders’ photo shoot; this woman claimed that Snyder put his hand on her thigh and later tried to push her into his vehicle against her will.
[Aside: I am not sufficiently familiar with the mechanisms of the House of Representatives to tell you want a “congressional roundtable” is unless it is nothing more than a circular piece of furniture in the Capital Building.]
Recall that there has been outrage with the team and the league that previous allegations of a toxic workplace in the team’s Front Office have not produced a finding that is available for public scrutiny. In that matter, the team set out to investigate itself until the league took over that process. In what must be the “Tone Deaf Announcement of the Year to Date”, the Washington Commanders announced that it had hired investigators to check in on those charges. The NFL had to step in again and make it clear that it would be the league doing the investigating in this matter and not the team investigating itself and its owner.
Here is how Commissioner Goodell explained the situation:
“I do not see any way that the team can do its own investigation of itself. That is something we [the NFL] would do. We would do it with an outside expert that would be able to help us come to the conclusion of what the facts were and what really, truly happened so that we can make the right decision from there.”
Naturally, someone wanted to know if there would be a “written report” that would be made available at the end of this new investigation given that there was no such thing at the end of the prior league investigation. Without going through the meandering answer to that question, the bottom line is that the Commissioner did not say there would be such a report for public consumption, and he did not rule out the possibility either. My suggestion here is:
- Don’t hold your breath.
The fact is that both the “Bauer situation” and the “Snyder conundrum” are not going away. Bauer may or may not be charged in the “Ohio incident” just as he may or may not be suspended by MLB. However, he has two more years on his contract with the Dodgers so it is reasonable to expect that he will be playing major league baseball somewhere down the road. Snyder owns an NFL team, and it would take some monumental finding of criminality here to concoct a scenario where the NFL “rids itself” of Daniel Snyder. Like Trevor Bauer, it is reasonable to expect that we will continue to hear from and about Daniel Snyder in the future.
Finally, since everything today revolves around sex, let me close with observations about sex from two commentators:
“Is sex dirty? Only if it’s done right.” [Woody Allen]
“Why should we take advice on sex from the Pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn’t.” [George Bernard Shaw]
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………