FORT MYERS, Fla. — New Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo acknowledged his involvement in a 2015 incident in Arizona that led to police investigating the alleged sexual assault of a minor by another player.
No charges were ever filed, and, in response to a question from a Globe reporter on Saturday, Verdugo said he was “cleared of any wrongdoing” in the matter.
“With that being said, it was a terrible thing that happened. It was in my past,” Verdugo said. “It was something that I’ve grown from it; I’ve learned from it.”
In late February 2015, according to a report filed by the Glendale, Ariz., Police Department, two Dodgers minor leaguers (one identified only as “Alex” by police) were partying with three women at the team’s minor league spring training hotel.
According to the report, while “Alex” was in the bathroom with two of the women, the third female — a 17-year-old — lay down feeling sick after excessive alcohol intake.
During that time, according to the recollection of the victim, the second minor leaguer “[took] advantage” of her by placing his hand under her bra and inside her underwear.
After what the victim described in the report as “a couple minutes,” the three people in the bathroom returned to the room, at which point the second minor leaguer stopped touching the victim.
The victim told police that she moved to a pullout bed in the room to lie down while going in and out of consciousness before eventually starting to throw up on the bed. After she became ill, the victim told police in the report, the two other females punched and kicked her in the face and body until she left the room.
“Alex” is characterized in the police report not as a suspect in either the alleged assault or sexual assault, but rather as an investigative lead. He was not charged.
“If I was around for anything that had happened, I would have put a stop to it,” said Verdugo, who was 18 at the time. “I would have helped out. I would have done something.”
But Verdugo’s connection to the incident was concerning enough that, when it came to light in 2019, an executive of a team that had long been interested in acquiring Verdugo said that his club decided — in concert with other concerns about the player’s makeup — it would no longer consider trading for him.
Other teams continued to consider Verdugo as a trade candidate into this offseason. Multiple members of the Red Sox organization said that the team was aware of the alleged incident before trading for Verdugo.
“I don’t think it would be appropriate for us to go into a ton of detail on that specific incident, but the due-diligence process there was extensive,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. “Obviously, that’s a topic that we take very seriously, as everybody should. We researched it very thoroughly. At the end of the day, we would not have moved forward with the acquisition if we would have found anything disqualifying.”
Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Verdugo addressed his new teammates on Friday and discussed the incident.
“It’s just because — it’s obviously the media, just how it is right now,” Verdugo said. “You guys are bringing it up; you guys are asking about it. You have to do it. You guys have to do your homework. You have to cover everything.
“I wanted to come to a new organization, but I didn’t want to be a distraction. I’m here to play baseball. I’m a baseball player. I’m here to help the Boston Red Sox win a championship.
“It was something I had to address to let everyone know the truth of it and hear it from my side, to hear the actual what happened.”
Said Roenicke: “I liked a lot of things he had to say.”
Verdugo defended his character several times during his first interview session since the trade.
“Obviously, my name being mentioned in the allegations, it hurts. It really does hurt. It’s hard. I don’t want Boston fans, I don’t want people to judge me for something that they have read or seen posted,” he said.
“I know who I am. I know what I believe in. I know my family values. It’s extremely hard to kind of have to deal with that.”