Two women who filed anonymous lawsuits against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, accusing him of sexual misconduct, were publicly named Tuesday.
Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley said that superstar QB touched them inappropriately during massage sessions, leaving them traumatized by the experience.
They are the first two of 22 clients of Houston attorney Anthony Buzbee to ditch his Jane Doe alias in civil actions filed against the Texans star. In his only public statement about the allegations, Watson has denied that he ever treated women with anything other than “the utmost respect.” Watson’s attorney has previously said that he never “forced a woman to commit a sexual act.”
“My name is Ashley Solis, remember that name. I hope that all surviving women and men will hear my story. And I hope my story gives them the courage to speak out, ”he told reporters in Houston.
“I was afraid. I am no longer afraid and I exist. I am here to regain power and regain control.”
While Buzbee and Solis did not specifically link their allegations to any of the 22 previous lawsuits, she said Watson made lewd advances against her in her home office on March 30 of last year.
That appears to coincide with the details of a March 16, 2021 lawsuit detailing a massage at the plaintiff’s home, where the victim burst into tears, alleging that Watson exposed himself and touched his hand “with the tip of his erect penis.” .
The lawsuit alleges that while the victim was crying, Watson told her: “I know you have a career and a reputation and I know that you would hate someone messing with yours like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”
Baxley addressed Watson in a letter read by Buzbee’s legal colleague, Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey.
“He crossed or attempted to cross all boundaries, from the professional and therapeutic to the sexual and degrading,” Brandfield-Harvey read in Baxley’s statement, in connection with a June 2 session. “I didn’t want to touch you, but my terror kept me on autopilot.”
Again, Buzbee did not specifically link Baxley to one of the lawsuits against Watson. But in a civil filing on March 18, a Jane Doe described how, on June 2, at a Houston spa, Watson exposed himself “several times” and “moved his body in such a way that his penis touched the plaintiff.”
That June 2 accuser also appears to be the only one of Watson’s accusers who said she had prior experience doing massage therapy for soccer players and other “high-profile athletes.”
In his statement read Tuesday, Baxley said in preparation for his session with Watson that he reviewed tapes of the quarterback’s game to understand how to best help a player at that position recover from typical play action or practice.
The Houston Police Department said Friday it was investigating Watson after a formal complaint was filed about him.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said Tuesday that Buzbee and Brandfield-Harvey asked for $ 100,000 on Solis’ behalf.
Hardin’s office issued a statement attributed to Waston’s agent, Scott Gaffield, saying the player’s only mistake was scheduling an appointment with a therapist he did not know.
“My email exchanges with Mr. Buzbee and Ms. Brandfield-Harvey were very clear,” according to Gaffield’s statement.
“We didn’t think the facts showed that Deshaun did something wrong with his client. We believed then, and we fully believe now, that Deshaun learned a lesson about putting himself in this kind of situation by interacting with people he doesn’t know.”
Hardin also said Buzbee warned Gaffield in a Feb. 19 email that Watson would face a difficult legal outlook in Houston.
“This is Houston, Texas. Perhaps you should find an attorney here so he can inform you and your client about the scenery here and who you are dealing with,” according to the alleged email.
Watson led the NFL in passing yards in 2020 and had been the subject of numerous trade rumors this offseason.
It’s unclear how these accusations could provoke or prevent Texans from trading their star interlocutor.
“The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these matters very seriously,” NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday.
“Immediately following the news of the first allegations last month, and as reported, we initiated an investigation under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. We continue to closely monitor all developments in the matter.”