Is innocence presumed? Often that presumption is illusory.
In criminal and civil litigation, the burden is on the accuser or the claimant, not the accused. In the high-profile, big business of sports, the bar has shifted to proof of innocence.
I commented on the Trevor Bauer matter (including sports writers high-horsing) and predicted that the Los Angeles Dodgers would release Bauer and eat $22.5 million in salary. The Dodgers released him but without the “wish him the best” statement. What the league and the Dodgers never did was prove that Bauer was anything more than a sexual weirdo. He was proven to like “rough sex.” He admitted as much. The league had the testimony of two women who willingly engaged in rough sex with Bauer and admitted that they too, liked rough sex. But they also claimed Bauer went too far. But no criminal charges were brought, and the one attempt at a restraining order was denied. The woman in Ohio dropped her claim, and the San Diego woman who accused Bauer and sought the restraining order (which initiated the league investigation and later suspension) has been sued by Bauer.
For Bauer, guilt was presumed. Clearly, Bauer needed to prove his innocence rather than the league proving his guilt. Major League Baseball has some history of assuming guilt and avoiding evidence of innocence. In 2019, another Dodger was accused of domestic violence. Witnesses claimed they saw Julio Urias push his girlfriend. He was arrested even though the uninjured woman said she fell in a parking garage. Urias was immediately suspended. The league didn’t view any video (apparently it had “trouble” getting any) and didn’t believe the “victim” who said that it didn’t happen. Urias was suspended for 20 games for a push that both Urias and his girlfriend said never happened.
The league acts like an inquisitor from the Middle Ages demanding that an accused can prove his innocence by proving a negative. It is no wonder that Bauer’s suspension was the longest in league history. Bauer couldn’t prove a negative, because “violence” is part of his and his partner’s sexual proclivities. Will Bauer pitch again? Any team signing him this year will get a Cy Young winner for the veteran minimum of $750,000. The Dodgers pay the rest. I think about mid-season, a club with a need for a starter will sign Bauer. Bauer will likely win his suit against the San Diego woman who petitioned for the restraining order and he’ll get a judgment that he cannot collect. Will that be enough for getting a new deal with another team? Yes, I think so.
In Texas, Chris Beard, the basketball coach at the University of Texas, was fired for an accusation of domestic abuse. He had a seven-year contract with his alma mater — a job that he described as his “dream job.” The university fired him even though the Travis County DA has not filed an “Information.” Like Urias, Beard denied the claim for which he was arrested. The woman whom the police say was “strangled” by Beard during an argument, has denied that Beard strangled her. She has asserted Beard’s innocence, admitted to violently ripping Beard’s glasses off his face and she initiated the argument, but Texas fired Beard anyway.
His fiancé said:
“Chris and I are deeply saddened that we have brought negative attention upon our family, friends, and the University of Texas, among others…“As Chris’ fiancée and biggest supporter, I apologize for the role I played in this unfortunate event. I realize that my frustration, when breaking his glasses, initiated a physical struggle between Chris and myself.”
Last summer, Arterio Morris, a Texas basketball player was arrested and charged with domestic violence against a family member. He is accused of grabbing his girlfriend by the arm and pulling her bra so hard that it caused a three-inch laceration on her neck. Morris wasn’t even suspended, even one game. Why? Because his coach apparently wanted the legal system to run its course, and if convicted, then Morris’ presumption of innocence would be gone. Who was the coach who believed that Morris deserved a presumption of innocence? Chris Beard.