In a statement posted on his Twitter feed Tuesday, free agent outfielder Yasiel Puig denied accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2018, calling the claims "false and malicious."
"These allegations are totally false, the evidence proves they are false, and I look forward to all the facts and the truth coming out," Puig wrote.
The alleged victim, identified as Jane Roe, claims the incident occurred in October 2018 in a bathroom at Staples Center following a Lakers game. The plaintiff sued Puig last October, saying he followed her into the bathroom and restrained her, groped her and masturbated in front of her.
There was no police report filed, and Puig has not been charged with any crimes. Puig said in his statement that the pair had consensual sex after meeting at a Lakers game that was initiated by the plaintiff, and that her description of the encounter is false.
In a statement to ESPN, attorney Taylor Rayfield, who represents the woman, refuted claims that the encounter was consensual.
"The simple fact of the matter is that our client never engaged in consensual sexual activity with Mr. Puig—not at the Staples Center Chairman's Club, and not anywhere else," Rayfield said, per ESPN's John Barr.
Rayfield also released a statement on behalf of the woman, which read: "I am an out and proud lesbian and have been during my entire adult life. My female fiancée and I were enjoying a Lakers game at the Staples Center when this attack occurred." She also described the idea of leaving her fiancée for a bathroom encounter with someone she just met "demeaning and ridiculous."
Puig's attorneys say that correspondence between Puig and the woman—including text messages and Instagram messages—prove her account is fabricated. Attorney Alan Jackson also pointed out that, by waiting two years to file the suit, evidence such as witness testimony and security footage that could be used in Puig's defense is nearly impossible to obtain.
Still, Jackson asserts his team has still gathered enough evidence to exonerate Puig.
“The evidence we have accumulated is overwhelming and it confirms that the allegations are untrue,” Jackson said. “And this is nothing more than an attempt to use the legal system to coerce money from a high-profile athlete.”
The woman did send Puig messages, according to Barr, but only in response to Puig sending several messages attempting to meet privately. Rayfield said the messages were an attempt to "de-escalate his behavior by providing curt responses," and that the woman was "fearful of a further attack or retribution by Puig."
Puig, 30, last appeared in an MLB game in 2019 with Cleveland. He reached an agreement with the Braves ahead of the 2020 season, but the deal was called off after Puig tested positive for COVID-19.
Jackson attributed Puig's long absence, at least in part, to the lawsuit, saying Puig "deserves to go back to work." Barr reported in March that multiple teams considered the allegations when evaluating whether or not to sign Puig as a free agent, with one front office source saying, "Nobody wants the headache."
Puig concluded his statement with a plea that his side of the story be heard, stating his desire to return to playing baseball.
"I can only hope that those who have misjudged this situation will understand that all I ask to that I be given the chance to prove these claims false, and in the meantime, play the game that I love so much," Puig wrote.
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