Two women who sued Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson anonymously, accusing him of sexual misconduct, publicly named themselves Tuesday.
The women, Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley, said the superstar QB touched them inappropriately during massage sessions, traumatizing them.
They're the first two of 22 clients of Houston lawyer Anthony Buzbee to have shed their Jane Doe aliases in civil actions filed against Watson. In his only public statement about the allegations, Watson has denied that he ever treated women with anything but the "utmost respect." Watson's attorney has said he never "forced a woman to commit a sexual act."
"My name is Ashley Solis. Remember that name. I hope every woman and man out there who is a survivor hears my story. And I hope my story gives them courage to speak out," Solis told reporters in Houston.
"I was afraid. I'm not afraid anymore, and I do exist," she said. "I'm here to take back the power and take back control."
While Buzbee and Solis didn't specifically link her allegations to any of the previous 22 lawsuits, Solis said Watson made lewd advances toward her at her home office on March 30 of last year.
That seems to match the details of a lawsuit filed last month that details a massage at the plaintiff's home, where the victim broke down in tears, alleging that Watson exposed himself and touched her hand "with the tip of his erect penis."
The suit alleges that as the victim was crying, Watson told her: "I know you have a career and a reputation and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours just like I don't want anyone messing with mine."
Baxley addressed Watson in a letter read by Buzbee's law colleague Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey.
"Every boundary, from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading, you crossed or attempted to cross," Brandfield-Harvey read from Baxley's statement regarding a June 2 session. "I did not want to touch you but my terror kept me in autopilot."
Again, Buzbee didn't specifically link Baxley to one of the lawsuits. But in a civil filing 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 to make his penis touch plaintiff."
The June 2 accuser also appears to be the only one who said she had previous experience doing massage therapy for football players and other "high-profile athletes."
In her statement read Tuesday, Baxley said that in preparation for her session with Watson, she reviewed tapes of quarterback play to understand how best to help a quarterback recover from typical game action or practice.
The Houston Police Department said Friday that it was investigating Watson after a formal complaint was made.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said Tuesday that Buzbee and Brandfield-Harvey asked for $100,000 on behalf of Solis.
Hardin's office released a statement attributed to Watson's agent, Scott Gaffield, saying Watson's only mistake was to have scheduled an appointment with a therapist he didn't know.
"My email exchanges with Mr. Buzbee and Ms. Brandfield-Harvey were very clear," according to Gaffield's statement.
"We did not think that the facts showed that Deshaun did anything wrong with their client. We believed then — and fully believe now — that Deshaun learned a lesson about putting himself in this type of situation by interacting with people he does not know."
Hardin also said Buzbee warned Gaffield in an email Feb. 19 that Watson would face a difficult legal landscape in Houston.
"This is Houston, Texas. Perhaps you should find him a lawyer here so you can apprise both you and your client of the landscape here and who you are dealing with," according to the alleged email.
Watson, who led the NFL in passing yards in 2020, had been the subject of numerous trade rumors this off-season. It's not clear how the allegations could prompt or prevent the Texans from trading him.
"The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these issues very seriously," Brian McCarthy, the NFL's vice president of communications, said in a statement Tuesday.
"Immediately following news of the first allegations last month, and as has been reported, we initiated an investigation under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy," he said. "We are continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter."