TORONTO – The lawyer for Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna insists that there is no implicit acceptance of guilt in his client’s decision to accept Major League Baseball’s 75-game suspension for violating its joint domestic violence policy.
Domenic Basile made the comment shortly after a brief appearance on Osuna’s behalf at the Old City Hall courthouse Monday, during which the case was pushed to Aug. 1 to allow for further discussion between the defence and Crown.
Basile said the 23-year-old, slated to begin a rehab assignment in Florida on Saturday ahead of an Aug. 5 return from suspension, intends to plead not guilty to the assault charge laid against him by Toronto police May 8. He’s seeking a resolution through a peace bond in which the charge would be withdrawn, “something that is often offered in a case like this,” said Basile.
The punishment issued by Major League Baseball on June 22 – the third longest ever under the joint domestic violence policy – will in no way prejudice the court, Basile asserted.
“I want to make it clear, there is no admission of guilt by Roberto Osuna with respect to what happened with Major League Baseball,” he said. “They imposed that suspension. He’s not appealing it and he’s not going through the process. It is a confidential agreement between Major League Baseball and the players association but again, there’s no admission of guilt by Roberto and it doesn’t change anything in the criminal court.”
Basile also addressed a report by Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports on the day of the suspension, which stated: “it is believed MLB was able to interview the alleged victim.” Basile said any such contact would be news him, and added that Osuna was motivated to not appeal because the process could potentially drag deep into next season.
Accepting the suspension means “Major League Baseball took action that they saw fit to take, he accepted their decision and we have finality with respect to that process in the sense that Aug. 5 he’s eligible to play, and he’s looking forward to doing that,” said Basile.
In announcing the ban, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred ruled Osuna had violated baseball’s policy, which has a clear definition of domestic violence in the collective bargaining agreement.
There are no legal implications preventing Osuna from starting his rehabilitation assignment this weekend or returning to pitch Aug. 5 when the Blue Jays are in Seattle, even if the criminal proceedings remain ongoing at that point.
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said recently that Osuna would be welcomed back once his suspension was over.
Basile said it was “doubtful” that the case would be resolved by then, saying “it may take a little bit longer, it may take a lot longer.”
He listed three potential outcomes at this point, with the first being the goal and third the backup plan:
The first option is the best case scenario for Osuna as, based on Basile’s consultations with immigration lawyers, it would also not impact his ability to travel on his work visa. The second option would “likely not impact his ability to travel,” while a conviction “could negatively impact him with respect to travel.”
“Our goal right now is to plead not guilty and to either have this matter resolved by way of a peace bond down the road, and there’s a lot being discussed right now. There’s no undertaking by the Crown that they will offer a peace bond,” said Basile. “It’s something that criminal lawyers who are dealing with charges like this have to work at and provide the crown certain information. That’s what I’m in the process of doing. I’m confident that I’m going to hopefully persuade the Crown that that’s the best route to go in this particular case.”
As part of his discipline by MLB, Osuna was to “participate in a confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program” overseen by the board that administers the joint program. Basile said that process is underway.
“I can tell you that I’m working and doing everything I can to get him the most positive result,” he said. “(Osuna) keeps telling me to say this and I keep repeating it: He’s very anxious to deal with this and to move forward.”