Major League Baseball investigators interviewed a woman who said that free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig sexually assaulted her in a bathroom at the Staples Center but took no further action due to her desire to remain anonymous and up more evidence awaits to emerge from the lawsuit. MLB source said ESPN.
With the baseball season kicking off over the next several weeks, 30-year-old Puig remains unemployed, at least in part on the allegation, according to a source in a team’s front office.
The woman, identified only as Jane Roe in federal court documents, sued Puig last October, saying the former Dodgers outfielder followed her into a bathroom after a Lakers game in October 2018 and masturbated in front of her.
The woman did not file a police report. Puig was not charged with any crime. He denies the allegations in a court case in which a judge is also asked to dismiss the lawsuit.
A number of teams reportedly showing an interest in Puig this spring have incorporated the allegations into their decisions.
“Nobody wants the headache,” the front office source told ESPN.
Puig’s attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit or available Puig for comment. His agent Rachel Luba also declined to comment.
In November, a Major League Baseball attorney interviewed the woman Puig is suing and provided her with a list of resources available to sexual assault victims, the woman’s attorney Taylor Rayfield told ESPN.
Rayfield said that in a follow-up to the November interview with her client, a Major League Baseball attorney told her the league could not investigate further because the woman refused to give her name.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can discipline players over domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse and has done so more than a dozen times since the league passed a new policy in 2015.
“They claim to have a personal code of conduct. Well, what could possibly be more offensive than what happened here?” Rayfield added, “I would like to see them crack down on players and hold them accountable and not allow people to be part of their organizations who are sexual and physical abusers.”
An MLB source confirmed that an investigator spoke to the woman. The source also said that Puig was not questioned about the allegations as MLB usually doesn’t reach out to a player until after a thorough investigation. The case remains open, and the source said the MLB investigators are waiting to see what details will emerge from the lawsuit.
In an interview with ESPN, the woman spoke in detail about her encounter with Puig.
ESPN does not usually identify individuals involved in sexual assault cases unless they choose to make their names public. The 32-year-old California woman told ESPN that she owns a business that puts her in touch with several professional athletes. She asked to visit “Jane” for the purpose of the interview.
Jane said she first met Puig in the Chairman’s Room, a space under the bleachers at the south end of the Staples Center, open only to fans with floor-level seating and a short list of VIPs and celebrities who regularly attend Lakers games . Jane attended the game with two other people, a friend and her fiancé.
She said she never met Puig and did not recognize him when he first approached her at half time, made a comment on the hat she was wearing and started a conversation.
“He was just trying to engage with me. He was flirting,” she said.
Minutes later, said Jane, Puig, who was standing across the room at this point, pointed at her, pointed two fingers at his eyes and then at her as if to say: “I’m watching you.” She said she dismissed the interaction as a more harmless flirtation.
After the game, Jane went to the bathroom where she said Puig had followed her and physically restrained her by pinning her with his forearm. The lawsuit says that Puig tried to undress, she groped, exposed herself, and then masturbated in front of her.
Later that evening, Puig Jane sent a text message that read, “Private between me and me [sic] Everything that happens no one needs to know, “according to a transcript of text messages that appear in court documents. It was the first of several texts that Puig sent out in the days that followed to meet Jane privately, she said.
Jane said she couldn’t remember exactly when she gave Puig her phone number, but it would not have been uncommon to do so given her job.
According to her lawyer, she never went to the police because she tried to forget about the incident. Jane says she only spoke to her fiancee and younger brother about what happened to her.
Jane’s brother told ESPN that he remembered receiving a call either the night of the game or the next day and being surprised to hear his sister “distraught”. He said first that she only gave partial details.
“She said, ‘Yeah, he was obsessed with me and followed me into the bathroom.’ It sounded to me like he was some super creepy guy trying to get at her, “said Jane’s brother.
He said he remembered his sister, who Puig described as “intimidating” and “aggressive” and that Jane was “very scared,” but said Jane never went so far as to describe sexual assault.
It was only after the lawsuit was filed in October and there was media coverage, mostly in the Los Angeles area, that her brother became aware of the full extent of the allegations, he said.
In the weeks and months following the alleged incident at the Staples Center, Jane said, each day felt like a nightmare in her brain. She said the encounter made her more irritable and quicker, which her brother also noticed, and put a strain on her relationship with her fiancé. Jane also said she had lost her sense of personal security.
“Honestly, I wouldn’t use a toilet in public places because I was afraid someone would follow me. And when you start thinking about things like that, it changes your whole world. … If you do, it’s almost like that like you’re paranoid everywhere. “
In a file filed in January seeking the dismissal of the lawsuit, Puig’s attorneys argued that Jane failed the legal burden “to determine that anonymity is appropriate”. According to the application, anonymity is “granted only in the rare case where the need for anonymity outweighs the accused’s prejudice and the right to open court”.
Puig’s lawyers argue that by preserving her anonymity, Jane makes her claims “unjustifiably credible” and “all of these statements result in Mr Puig being tried in public opinion before Mr Puig has a chance to do so.” defend oneself. “
In response, Rayfield submitted court documents describing the effort to reveal her client’s identity as “nothing more than a barely veiled attempt by the Defendant Puig to humiliate, molest and punish” [Jane] … in the hope that she will drop her claims against him. “
“I think it’s an intimidation tactic,” said Jane. “I feel like I’m being targeted. I feel like I’m being resuscitated and I don’t understand why anyone would do that.”
The risk of being publicly identified is a “great deterrent for survivors,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the National network for rape, abuse and incest. In focus groups and surveys, “anonymity is always first” on the list of concerns of survivors, he said.
While Jane’s lawsuit continues, Puig remains unemployed.
Puig took to the stage with the Los Angeles Dodgers in June 2013 and led the majors averaging 0.436 that month and was named National League Player of the Month.
Puig was arrested twice for reckless driving in 2013 and in 2015 MLB examined him after fighting a bouncer and being accused of pushing his sister into a Miami bar. There was no charge and he wasn’t disciplined.
He last wore a Major League uniform in 2019 when he appeared in 100 games for the Cincinnati Reds. After a mid-season trade, Puig played 49 games with the Cleveland Indians. He didn’t play at all in the shortened 2020 season apart from five games in the Dominican Winter League. His positive COVID-19 test in July sank a potential contract he was expected to sign with the Atlanta Braves.
A federal judge in California examines the application for dismissal and the question of Jane’s anonymity. Lawyers on both sides said they did not know when the judge would rule. Jane said her decision to file the lawsuit was motivated in part by a desire to hold Puig accountable.
“I felt like a predator towards myself and someone with that attitude could do this to someone else. Honestly, I just don’t want them to be able to do this to someone else. That’s what I want.”
ESPN reporter T.J. Quinn contributed to this report.