Outfielder Yasiel Puig was accused of sexual assault by two women in January 2017, according to a report from Gus Garcia-Roberts of the Washington Post. Puig had also been accused of sexual assault in 2018, with those previously-reported allegations resulting in a civil action that was settled out of court this past October.
The Post report contains details on the disturbing set of allegations made against the then-Dodgers outfielder in 2017. One woman alleged Puig became violent during a sexual encounter. She reported the allegation to police — who photographed injuries she said resulted therefrom — but declined to pursue criminal charges. The other woman alleged that Puig attempted to force her to engage in various sexual acts without her consent, according to a letter from the woman’s attorney to Puig obtained by the Post. There is no indication the second woman reported the alleged assault to police.
Both women initiated civil actions against Puig which were confidentially settled out of court by April 2017. As part of both settlements, Puig denied the veracity of the allegations. His attorney tells the Post that Puig agreed to settle based on the advice of counsel at the time, citing the Cuba native’s “limited English abilities” as a factor in Puig’s decision to go along with that course of action. Puig’s agent, Lisette Carnet, told the Post she believes Latin American players are particularly susceptible to false allegations being made against them. She also claimed that players agreeing to confidential settlements with accusers of sexual assault is a common practice throughout MLB, one some agents consider “part of the business behind the game.”
Major League Baseball investigated both incidents in 2017, according to Garcia-Roberts, ultimately making the determination not to impose discipline. That decision was made “based on the evidence available to league investigators,” a league spokesperson told the Post. (MLB was permitted to speak with the women despite the respective settlements’ inclusion of non-disclosure agreements, per Garcia-Roberts, although it’s not clear whether they ever did so).
Puig continued to play that season while the league’s investigation was ongoing. That’s standard practice in instances where the allegations have not been made public, Garcia-Roberts notes. While the MLB – MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy gives the league the authority to place a player accused of a violation on paid administrative leave pending investigation, the Post writes that MLB has typically declined to do so unless the allegations are made public in some other way or unless they’re on the verge of imposing discipline.
Dodgers president Stan Kasten told the Post that he had “no recollection” of the allegations against Puig. Garcia-Roberts notes that the Joint Domestic Violence Policy contains a provision that limits the league’s ability to disclose information related to an investigation — even to the player’s team — to certain circumstances (i.e. for the imposition of discipline, in anticipation of a grievance, when needed to further potential mental health treatment for the player, etc.).
Puig played in Los Angeles through the end of the 2018 season. He split the 2019 campaign between the Reds and Indians. While he’d neared an agreement to sign with the Braves in 2020, that deal was scuttled after he tested positive for COVID-19. He didn’t play last year, then spent 2021 in the Mexican League. Last week, Puig signed with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. In recent months, the 31-year-old has continued to express a desire to eventually return to MLB.