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Definition of ‘brutalize’ is latest twist in Trevor Bauer case

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Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer before action against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer before action against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Harry How/Getty Images/TNS)

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LOS ANGELES — Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer has sued the San Diego woman who accused him of sexual assault, two media outlets that covered the case, and two journalists and one attorney who commented on it. On Tuesday, that attorney raised a question that could speak to public perception in the case: Just what does it mean to say one person “brutalized” another?

“The word ‘brutalize’ is commonly used to describe consensual beatings,” attorney Fred Thiagarajah argued in a filing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.

Thiagarajah formerly represented the woman, who since has filed a countersuit against Bauer for alleged sexual battery.

In February, after the Los Angeles County district attorney declined to file criminal charges against Bauer, Thiagarajah told the Washington Post: “There’s no doubt that Mr. Bauer just brutalized [the woman].” Bauer sued for defamation, in part because he claimed that statement was “contrary to the conclusions” of the district attorney and a judge who previously had denied the woman a restraining order.

In Tuesday’s filing, Thiagarajah relied on the judge’s explanation for her decision. The judge said the woman was “not ambiguous about wanting rough sex in the parties’ first encounter and wanting rougher sex in the second encounter.” Yet the judge also said the woman’s “injuries as shown in the photographs are terrible.”

In an earlier filing, Bauer said “the pictures did not reflect what she looked like when she left” his house after the second encounter. In a video in February, Bauer said: “I never assaulted her in any way, at any time.”

Thiagarajah argued that the word “brutalize” need not be taken in the context of a sexual assault and in fact often refers to “terrible beatings where there is no doubt about consent,” citing media references in which the word is used to describe boxing and UFC matches.

He provided this quote from an ESPN story: “The Gypsy King brutalized him en route to a seventh-round TKO.”

The woman’s allegations triggered a Major League Baseball investigation, in which the league considered similar claims from two other publicly disclosed women. Bauer has denied the claims made by the other women.

MLB suspended him for two years, the longest suspension levied against a player for violating the league’s policy against sexual assault and domestic violence. Bauer is appealing; an arbitrator’s decision whether to sustain, shorten, or overturn the suspension is expected after the World Series.

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