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Twenty years ago, a young woman accused Kobe Bryant, the best player in basketball, of sexual assault and strangulation. The NBA took no action. As the case worked its way through the court system, Bryant continued to play.
Though Bryant initially lied to police about having sex with the woman and eventually acknowledged that he strangled her during rough sex, the NBA granted Bryant a presumption of innocence. The accuser refused to testify in court, ending the criminal proceedings. Bryant issued a public apology and paid the accuser.
Two years ago, a young woman accused Trevor Bauer, the best pitcher in baseball, of sexual assault and strangulation. Three days after the media reported the accusations against Bauer, the Los Angeles Dodgers placed Bauer on administrative leave. He’s never pitched in the major leagues since.
Bauer steadfastly maintained his innocence. Prosecutors never indicted Bauer for the alleged crime. Bauer sued his accuser, Lindsey Hill, a recovering alcoholic. Hill filed a countersuit. Bauer and Hill on Monday dropped their civil suits without either side receiving a penny.
Bauer immediately released a four-minute video restating his innocence and revealing what appears to be damning evidence that Hill tried to extort him.
“Quite frankly, regardless of the outcome in court,” Bauer said, “I’ve paid significantly more in legal fees than Lindsey Hill could ever pay me in her entire life, and I knew that would be the case going in. But the lawsuit was never about the money for me. It was the only way for me to obtain critical information to clear my name.”
So what happened over the last 20 years that we could see such disparate treatment of superstar male athletes revolving around sexual encounters with young women?
It’s easy to simply blame the #MeToo movement and castigate the women who have used the movement to bully and terrorize men.
I honestly don’t blame Lindsey Hill. She has a drinking problem and obvious emotional issues. I feel sorry for her. She’s apparently unstable.
Men are to blame for what happened to Trevor Bauer, including Trevor Bauer himself. Our immorality and cowardice have created the current environment.
Let’s start with Dodgers ownership: the Guggenheim group, which consists of Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, Peter Guber, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton, and Todd Boehly. They could have stood by Bauer as the court proceedings played out. But they chose the easy, safe route. They distanced themselves from Bauer as soon as they could. This is what cowards do. They took the easy path. They practiced CYA constantly.
Then we can move on to Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball. He could have insisted that the Dodgers take more of a wait-and-see approach with Bauer. Instead, Manfred sought to harshly punish Bauer without all the evidence. MLB originally suspended Bauer for more than 300 games.
I also blame the men running virtually all the corporate media outlets. Sexual assault cases are complicated, way too complex for the kind of instant, believe-all-women analysis that is commonplace in mainstream media.
Based on what Bauer alleges in his four-minute video, I blame Jacob Nix, the former Padres pitcher who reportedly encouraged Lindsey Hill to extort Bauer. Hill is from San Diego. It appears she’s quite well known and connected in the baseball world.
And that’s why I don’t leave out Trevor Bauer. He shoulders a great deal of blame here, too. At some point, he has to recognize that he put himself in danger hooking up with an emotionally damaged, drunken groupie. I get Bauer’s anger. He’s lost millions of dollars that he’ll never recover. His reputation has been smeared. He could have avoided all the trouble had he been more mature with his approach to pursuing women.
Men have fallen. We’re weak. We’re controlled by our lust, and we’re afraid to stand on the values we boldly espouse. When Rome was great, military leaders would fall on their swords if they failed in battle. Men took responsibility for their failures.
We don’t do that any more. That’s why our society is so chaotic and corrupt. Men choose survival over honor. We make decisions that allow us to survive, collect the next paycheck, and avoid criticism.
Twenty years ago, I believe David Stern and the NBA mishandled the Kobe Bryant allegations. There’s a middle ground between doing nothing to Bryant and destroying the life and career of Trevor Bauer.Bold and thoughtful leadership would find that middle ground. Cowards aren’t bold and thoughtful. They’re weak. Women take advantage of weak men. The #MeToo environment is what we deserve.
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Jason Whitlock is the host of “Fearless with Jason Whitlock” and a columnist for Blaze News.