Earlier this month, I wrote about the unspoken problem with the Mookie Betts trade - the involvement of outfield prospect Alex Verdugo in an assault on an underage girl in 2015. Since then, the story has blown up, with multiple outlets asking Verdugo himself about the incident first reported by Jessica Quiroli last year.
But there’s another part to this story that we’re still not talking about, as Gabe Kapler, the recently hired skipper of the San Francisco Giants, was in 2015 in charge of the Dodgers’ minor league system, and in that capacity covered up the incident with Verdugo, Julio Urias, and James Baldwin in 2015.
I suggested a meeting in order for the players to apologize. The sole purpose was to provide the opportunity for the victim to receive an apology in a controlled environment with supervision, and to educate the players on how to be accountable. The meeting was suggested to the victim, and she declined. We respected her wishes and dropped the idea.
* * *
The question of why I didn’t report this to the police is a fair one. Admittedly, there were many thoughts going through my mind at the time. But above all, the victim’s grandmother asked for my reassurance that I wouldn’t “turn [the victim] in” before the victim would share what had happened. After the victim shared her description of the night, she sent me a follow up email and said she didn’t want to talk about it any further. My feeling at the time was that the victim should have the right to make the decision about what she wanted to do. Perhaps I should have taken it out of her hands, but my intention was to respect the victim and her wishes.
Even if we take this statement at face value, the idea that minor leaguers are elementary school children whom you direct to apologize in a “controlled environment,” especially given the grievous nature of the allegations, is shocking. Moreover, the survivor saying she no longer wanted to talk about the attack was not a directive to keep the attack from the police. Still, maybe we could forgive Kapler as someone who was in over his head and made poor decisions this one time.
That is, if this incident were the only time. But that wasn’t the only time. In 2018, the Daily Beast reported that a Dodgers minor leaguer had sexually harassed and possibly assaulted a hotel maid; Kapler didn’t report that assault to the police either. Instead, in text messages between Kapler and other Dodgers officials, he instructed that they “[p]lease ensure that we use this as a teaching and sharpening opportunity for all.”
In other words, Gabe Kapler believed that a sexual assault was a “teaching and sharpening opportunity” for his players. It’s also not at all clear from his blog posts that Kapler recognized these as two separate incidents; he seems to conflate them, intentionally or otherwise, giving the impression that there was only one incident. In point of fact, whilst Gabe Kapler was in charge of the Dodgers’ minor league system, twice he was tasked - in 2015 - with addressing a sexual assault committed by a player. Twice he failed to report the crime. Twice he believed the attack to be a “teaching opportunity.”
When Kapler was asked - all too obliquely - at his Giants introductory press conference about this record, he invoked his mother.
Gabe Kapler said he spoke to his mom a lot over the past month "for obvious reasons." He regrets that he did not talk to her about what to do during Dodgers incidents.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) November 13, 2019
But frankly, it’s offensive that he would have us believe that he didn’t know how to handle minor leaguers sexually assaulting women because he didn’t talk to his mother about it. As Craig Calcaterra said at the time,
The odd, less-than-thoughtful reference to Kapler’s mom the get-me-over fastball of answers, heaved in there because all he needed in this instance was a get-me-over fastball after which he can safely assume that he will never be asked about this stuff again.
On the other hand, the idea that this was simply Kapler being out of his depth doesn’t hold water.
Gabe Kapler: It was “incredibly important” to hold team meeting on domestic violence— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) May 28, 2019
“It’s incredibly disturbing. It is unacceptable every time”
Gabe started the Gabe Kapler Foundation for his wife at the time because she was in an abusive relationship in HS & opened a shelter pic.twitter.com/9WaFrUUqzA
And there’s a lot Kapler hasn’t been asked about yet - both about the incidents when he was in charge of the Dodgers’ minor league system, and about that anti-domestic violence foundation he and his wife ostensibly established in 2005. Until late last year, Kapler maintained a website for his foundation, the “Kapler Foundation.” This is what he said on that website about women and children.
According to Gabe Kapler’s foundation website: women and children are “feeble.”— Gabrielle (@gfstarr1) November 13, 2019
Also according to Gabe Kapler’s foundation website: children are the best “enforcement against domestic violence.” pic.twitter.com/XbMpPszzhb
This page on youths might be the most disturbing of all.— Gabrielle (@gfstarr1) November 13, 2019
Keywords include: prostrated, befall, demon-possessed, betray
Best line: “You can not imagine how the devil works.”
The artwork will haunt me. https://t.co/xZt8CtB0Vs pic.twitter.com/fyizS9r7YX
After I wrote about the website for Baseball Prospectus’ Short Relief late last year, the website was quietly taken down.
But that’s not all. In an interview in 2005 about the Foundation, Kapler said of his then-wife, who was evidently the impetus for the charity after being in an abusive relationship, “I knew the relationship she had prior to me was a violent one, and that she was a little bit violent herself.” Later, he said “It can be dangerous to present too soft a masculinity.”
This offseason, Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran both were fired from managerial posts - Beltran before even managing a single game - because of their involvement with the Astros’ cheating scandal. Kapler, however, was hired to manage the Giants, and after he invoked his mother, his abysmal record was quietly shelved.
Why does Gabe Kapler keep getting management jobs? Covering up multiple sexual assaults, calling women weak and feeble, saying children should be enforcement against domestic violence, calling an abuse victim “violent herself”...isn’t that worse than stealing signs? And what does it say about Major League Baseball and our society that we don’t seem to think so?