The email from the manager of a Hampton Inn in Glendale, Arizona, stunned the Los Angeles Dodgers. A minor-league player recently signed by the team had been accused of harassing and then sexually assaulting a hotel housekeeper. The situation, the manager wrote, was “unacceptable.”
“I guess for a few weeks now [the player] has been making remarks and asking her to go out with him,” the manager wrote in an email to a team official that was obtained by The Daily Beast. “She keeps telling him that she has a boyfriend and is not interested but he still keeps making comments.”
The ballplayer, the manager wrote, would not take no for an answer.
“On Sunday things elevated where she was cleaning another room and he came up behind her and grabbed her,” the email continued. “She pushed him back and he came back and grabbed her yet again. She told him that she wasn’t interested and that he needed to leave and he did.”
As news of the 2015 incident spread throughout the Dodgers’ player-development staff, the club appeared to have little doubt about the housekeeper’s credibility or the severity of the incident, the email chain shows.
The team quickly sent the player back to Latin America and released him from the Dodgers a few months later. But there is no evidence that the Dodgers notified Major League Baseball about the allegations.
And just a month after the Dodgers cut ties with him, he was back in baseball again, with a minor-league contract for another MLB team.
The Dodgers—who are under investigation for their recruiting practices in Latin America, according to Sports Illustrated—declined to answer any questions about the hotel matter.
“Personnel matters are addressed promptly at the time they are reported to the organization, and we do not comment publicly on such matters,” the club said in a statement.
The episode, in which an alleged perpetrator was punished by one team and allowed to play for another shortly thereafter, appears to highlight a gap in how MLB handles allegations of sexual assault across the league.
The Daily Beast asked MLB whether it requires teams to notify the league of possible sexual misconduct by minor-league players, whether it was informed of the housekeeper’s accusation, and whether it conducted its own investigation. MLB declined to answer those questions, providing a statement that said only: “This was handled as an internal matter by the Dodgers and we consider the matter closed.”
The player at issue was eventually released by the other MLB team. The Daily Beast could not find contact information for him and is not naming him because he was not formally charged with a crime. Numerous phone and email messages left for the school he attended before being signed and for the agent who represented him at the time were not returned. The Hampton Inn housekeeper was not identified in the correspondence and The Daily Beast was unable to speak with her. But the internal team emails did not raise any questions about her account.
Roman Barinas, the Dodgers manager of international scouting, wrote that he was unfamiliar with the details of what happened but “what I see on this [email] thread cannot be taken lightly. [He] crossed a line and is extremely lucky he isn’t in jail.” Barinas did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.
The Dodgers conducted an investigation of the incident following the hotel manager’s complaint and spoke to both the player and the housekeeper.
“We got the information and let the director [Dodgers field coordinator Clayton McCullough] know right away,” Juan Rodriguez, the Dodgers’ manager of Arizona operations and the person who initially received the manager’s complaint, told The Daily Beast in a phone interview this week. “[The player] said he didn’t do it. She said he did,” Rodriguez added.
Gabe Kapler, who was then head of player development for the Dodgers and is now manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, spoke with the Hampton Inn manager. In a subsequent email to other Dodgers officials, Kapler wrote that “his report made me feel embarrassed for our organization. I assured him that we’d address the situation swiftly and that this would not be an issue going forward.”
Barinas then wrote: “AZ Instructs [a postseason development program] is a privilege. Sending him home isn’t a punishment in my mind. His actions just show us that he doesn’t yet deserve that privilege. I suggest we have him report to [Dominican Republic] Instructs to learn more about what we stand for as an organization in an environment more suitable to his maturity level and understanding of American culture. This is my initial reaction, I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.”
In a phone interview this week, Rodriguez told The Daily Beast that “we took the allegation pretty seriously. I believe he was suspended... He was asked to go home.”
The player remained at least nominally associated with the Dodgers for another three months, until he was officially released, according to MLB records.
One month after his release, he signed with the other team and played in a number of minor-league games before being released.
The hotel housekeeper’s accusations came after MLB had instituted a new policy on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. The policy, which applies to major-league players, allows the baseball commissioner’s office to place athletes accused of sexual assault on administrative leave, conduct an investigation, and discipline the accused. In a statement announcing the policy, MLB pledged to “implement additional policies to cover Minor League players, as well as everyone employed by a Major League or Minor League club, and the Commissioner’s Office.”
The hotel employee asked that no police report be filed, according to one person familiar with the incident; the local police department had no reports of sexual assault at the hotel address in 2015. The union that represents some hospitality employees said incidents like the one outlined in the Dodgers emails are all too common. Some labor leaders have demanded that management provide staffers with GPS-enabled panic buttons and institute bans on guests who are the subject of complaints.
“Hotel housekeeping staff are at the highest risk generally for sexual harassment because they work alone,” Unite Here spokeswoman Rachel Gumpert said. “They have no idea what’s on the other side of that door when they go inside.”