TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays offered their backing to Edwin Encarnacion but had little else to say Tuesday about a lawsuit alleging the star slugger knew he had two sexually transmitted diseases and didn’t reveal that to a 24-year-old woman he infected.
Ashley Lebron is seeking $11.5 million in damages for battery and negligent transmission of STDs among six claims in the action filed Monday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
In a statement released to Sportsnet, Paul Kinzer, Encarnacion’s agent, described the lawsuit as “completely inappropriate and meritless” and said his client will “bring appropriate claims in the appropriate forums against all of the individuals seeking to exploit his financial position.”
Kinzer added that Encarnacion “will not be commenting on the matter.”
Given that the case is active in the courts, the Blue Jays as a matter of course remained relatively mum on the matter. General manager Ross Atkins, speaking with reporters, said, “That’s a very personal issue that I’m not going to get involved in. He’s been a great teammate, a great person to work with, we fully support Edwin and we’ll continue to.”
Lebron is seeking a trial by jury and there are no hearing dates yet scheduled for the lawsuit. Encarnacion has 21 days from when he was served to respond, according to court documents.
The action hinges on whether or not Encarnacion knew he had sexually transmitted diseases and purposely hid that fact from Lebron when the two had unprotected sex in the Dominican Republic last February, according to court documents.
According to the statement of fact within the 22-page lawsuit, Lebron claims she became ill after the encounters and when examined by doctors, was diagnosed with genital herpes and chlamydia.
Lebron claims to have known she was disease-free at the time because the previous December, she went for tests at a local Planned Parenthood clinic after experiencing some symptoms following a couple of sexual encounters with an unnamed Blue Jays player. Those tests returned negative.
Lebron claims that when she told Encarnacion of her herpes diagnosis, he texted that she should “check well” and that he did not “give her anything,” insisting that he was “clean” and that she shouldn’t “blame him.” He also suggested she may have contracted the virus when they went “four wheeling” together and she swam in a river while in the Dominican.
When she later informed him of the chlamydia diagnosis, Encarnacion again insisted that he was clean although he later eased off that assertion and ceased communications with Lebron.
Lebron and Encarnacion first met in 2013 and their families in the Dominican Republic knew each other. They began more regular communication last June.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
“(Encarnacion) will take every legal measure to defend himself against this frivolous claim, and will bring appropriate claims in the appropriate forums against all of the individuals seeking to exploit his financial position,” Kinzer, Encarnacion’s agent, said. “This is an unacceptable attack on his exceptional character and stellar reputation within the baseball community as a man who carries himself with the highest level of integrity.
“Mr. Encarnacion will not be commenting on this matter. He will not allow this to distract from his continued focus of contributing to his team’s success. We kindly ask that his privacy be respected.”
Encarnacion has retained the services of Robert Lanza of Lanza, Reich and Daniel. Lanza is the former general counsel of the National Basketball Association Players Association.