Two women accusing Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct in separate lawsuits went public with their allegations Tuesday.
Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley are the first two alleged victims to take their claims public. Nearly two dozen women in total have filed lawsuits against Watson with help from Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee.
Buzbee said Solis was the first massage therapist to file against Watson on March 16. She appeared at Tuesday’s press conference at Buzbee’s Houston office and claimed anyone accusing her of “doing this just for money” is incorrect.
“I got into massage therapy to heal people,” Solis said, via ESPN. “To heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that. He took that away from me, he tainted a profession in which I take enormous pride. … I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and depression. I’m in counseling as a result of Deshaun Watson’s actions. I hope he knows how much pain he’s inflicted on me emotionally and physically. And I hope he knows how much pain he’s inflicted on these other survivors.”
Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, later released a statement accusing Buzbee of seeking “$100,000 in hush money on behalf of Ms. Solis to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit.” Attached was email correspondence between the Buzbee Law Firm lawyer Scott Gaffield, another representative for Watson, from February, per ESPN’s report.
Buzbee says Solis and at least one other client of have provided statements to police.
Baxley, meanwhile, wrote a letter to Watson that was read on her behalf at Tuesday’s press conference. She accused Watson of crossing “every boundary” possible so that he could know “without excuse or justification” that he had “deeply and irreversibly brought terror” to herself and other women.
“I initially came forward to offer solidarity to other women, but I have since realized that I’m deserving of justice as well,” Baxley wrote. “I hope the court of law brings that justice, and that you’re stripped of both your power and ability to hurt more women.”
The NFL’s investigation into Watson remains open.