The complaint, filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, claims the website and the writer, Molly Knight, published knowingly false information about Bauer online and on Twitter “with hatred, ill will, and spite, with the intent to harm Mr. Bauer or in blatant disregard of the substantial likelihood of causing him harm.”
The defamation lawsuit is the second Bauer has filed this month. He previously sued the website Deadspin and its managing editor.
In that suit, Bauer noted that Deadspin had cited the Athletic in reporting that Bauer had fractured the skull of a woman who had accused him of sexual assault. The woman had not suffered a fractured skull, according to publicly available medical records she filed in court, and Bauer said the Athletic had corrected its reporting before Deadspin posted its story.
In Tuesday’s suit, however, Bauer alleged the correction was “insufficient and inaccurate” and said the Athletic had acted with “actual malice” because it had the medical records that showed a skull fracture had been ruled out.
Bauer also alleged the Athletic had mischaracterized the findings of the judge who denied the woman’s request for a restraining order and claimed the website’s purportedly errant reporting apparently confirmed to Knight what his attorneys called “the righteousness” of “her frequent complaints about the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to add Mr. Bauer to the team.”
As evidence of the Athletic’s alleged “campaign” against Bauer, the suit cited the work of seven of the website’s staffers, including nationally renowned reporter Ken Rosenthal.
Knight declined to comment. A spokesman for the New York Times, the parent company of the Athletic, did not immediately respond to a request a comment.
In February, the Los Angeles County district attorney declined to charge Bauer with a crime. The official declination form said Bauer had been investigated for “assault by means likely to cause great bodily harm, sodomy of a sleeping person and domestic violence” but that there was insufficient evidence to prove any charges in court.
In response, Bauer released a seven-minute video he called “The Truth,” in which he said he had engaged in rough but consensual sex.
“I never assaulted her in any way, at any time,” he said.
Bauer last pitched for the Dodgers on June 28 of last year, two days before the woman filed her petition for a restraining order. On July 2, MLB put him on administrative leave. The leave has been repeatedly extended since then, with the consent of the players’ union, with the most recent extension lasting through April 16.
Major League Baseball can suspend a player for violating its sexual assault policy even if he is not charged with a crime.
Bauer is in the second year of a three-year, $102-million contract with the Dodgers. Although he did not pitch in the second half of last season and will not open this season on the roster, he has not lost any of his salary because players are paid while on administrative leave. Under baseball’s sexual assault and domestic violence policy, players are not paid during a suspension.