Just yesterday here at Phillies Nation, I wrote on allegations presented by writers from the Washington Post that involved current Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler in his role four years ago as the Los Angeles Dodgers director of player personnel.
Those allegations basically framed Kapler’s response upon being notified that an underage girl had been assaulted in the hotel room of two Dodgers players as being inadequate.
Specifically, the allegations stated that Kapler had failed to notify law enforcement authorities when he learned that a 17-year-old girl had been consuming alcohol and was beaten by two women who were in that hotel room with her and the players.
Instead, Kapler invited the girl and her grandmother, who had also notified him of the incident, to a dinner with himself and the two players.
In an email to the grandmother, Kapler wrote: “This dinner is our initiative. We will ensure [the girl’s] safety. We believe we can teach valuable lessons to all involved through this method of follow up.”
That underage girl would go on to claim in a statement to law enforcement the following week that she had indeed been sexually assaulted by one of the players. The police had finally been notified at that point by the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The police investigation led them to believe that she was also a victim of human trafficking. Ultimately the girl would decline to press charges.
I also wrote of a second incident which happened that same year of 2015. In that second incident, a housekeeper at a Hampton Inn claimed to have been repeatedly harassed and ultimately sexually assaulted by a Dodgers player.
In response to that complaint, Kapler contacted the manager of the Hampton Inn, and then wrote the following to fellow Dodgers executives: “…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.”
Today at his personal blog kaplifestyle.com, the Phillies manager responded to the situation involving the underage girl, which has blown up on social media over the last 24 hours.
In his response, Kapler began by reiterating that in handling the situation involving the 17-year-old, he had no knowledge that the young girl had been sexually assaulted by one of the players.
Kapler then went on to describe fully the incident as it was presented to him at that time back in February 2015:
“That situation was, in sum:
– Two players and two women met the individual in question. The group of five returned to the hotel room where one of the players was staying.
– One player passed out on the bed.
– The victim vomited on the other bed due to alcohol intoxication.
– The two women proceeded to hit her on the head and poured water on her.
– The other player shared a video clip of the incident on Snapchat.
– The two women asked the victim to leave.”
Kapler then responded to the question of why, when he was notified of the situation, did he not report it immediately to law enforcement. After all, whatever information he may not have had involving a sexual assault, he did have information that an underage girl was drinking with two of his players and had been assaulted in their hotel room.
“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.”
Kapler went on to write: “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.”
Certainly any reasonable adult would indeed have “taken it out of her hands”, if for no other reason than you are dealing with a juvenile, one who has already demonstrated that they might not be prone to making the best, most mature and responsible decisions.
Throughout the blog article, Kapler repeatedly emphasizes that he “had no reason to suspect that a sexual assault was alleged.” His initial 2015 response to the incident can certainly be read as trying to “handle” the situation without it negatively impacting his players or the Dodgers organization. Today’s blog article can certainly be read as just one more “CYA” attempt.
Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s my own law enforcement background. Maybe it’s having been the father of three daughters. But to me, when I learn that two of my charges have been found in a hotel room with an intoxicated, underage girl, one of the points that I am absolutely going to question is whether there was any sexual contact involved.
We’ve all heard the stories of professional athletes, younger prospect types and veterans as well, partying with groupies. These activities have been a part of sports, and not just baseball, since time immemorial.
At some point, and that had best happen quickly, these athletes need to be much more careful with their interpersonal interactions, especially when of a sexual nature. And they had also best start asking for I.D. cards when dealing with obviously young individuals.
And team officials need to start asking hard questions immediately when confronted with such a situation as this one. While the reputation of an organization and the protection of players from frivolous complaints, setups, and outright lies is important, so is the health and welfare of fans and others who might be taken advantage of by those same players.
It feels to me like there is far too much “defense” in this blog article by Kapler. There still appears to be not enough responsibility being accepted for not handling the incident better. That concerns me for the possibilities in handling any potential future incidents involving Phillies players, prospects, and other personnel.
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- While with Dodgers, Gabe Kapler failed to alert police of assault on underage girl in players hotel room
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- Machado dissatisfied as his free agency becomes a referendum on MLB labor practices
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