A Georgia Massage Therapist Was The First Of 24 Women To File A Lawsuit Against Deshaun Watson
He settled 23 sexual misconduct lawsuits and has one remaining.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or consult RAINN's website. If you need immediate assistance, please call 911 or go to your nearest hospital. Support is available.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was been suspended for six games, on August 1, for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
A total of 24 lawsuits have been filed against Watson by women who've accused him of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions in 2020 and early 2021. He has settled 23 of the confidential lawsuits and has one remaining, according to USA Today.
The first of those to come forward with such complaints was Ashley Solis, a licensed massage therapist from Sandy Springs, GA.
“The cases against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis," Tony Buzbee, Solis' attorney said in a statement. "At the time of that call, she was just one of the hundreds of calls seeking legal assistance that our firm gets weekly."
It continued to say that the alleged victim was originally turned away by their screening process, though Buzbee's staff insisted he talk to her and he's glad she didn't stop trying to get in touch.
Solis' lawsuit, which was filed in March 2021, details graphic sexual harassment, alleging that Watson refused to cover his genitals during the massage, and attempted to force Solis to perform oral sex.
Solis spoke to HBO on camera for a "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" segment about her experience with Watson.
"He ended up exposing himself, and I ended up and covered him with the towel, and he said 'oh you don't have to worry about the towel.' I said 'yes I do,'" she explained. "He requested that I work on his abdomen, but the moment I went above his navel he told me he didn't want me to work there he wanted me to work lower. He just kept directing me to go lower."
According to Solis, it became apparent that the session was becoming something she "didn't sign up for."
Solis details Watson deliberately grabbing himself and putting her hands on his genitals, which prompted her to cry and end the session.
"I am a survivor of assault and harassment. Deshaun Watson is my assaulter and my harasser. Watson assaulted and harassed me on March 30, 2020, in my own home, doing what I love most: massage therapy," Solis said in a statement reported by Sports Illustrated, "I will not let Deshaun Watson define who I am. I will not let him win. He needs to be held accountable for his actions. I will not let him take my power away. I am strong now, and I know who I am."
Buzbee, Solis' attorney says her coming forward has led to the pursuit of accountability.
"The truth is, without her courage and willingness to come forward, the NFL wouldn’t currently be contemplating discipline; there would be no examination of how teams might knowingly or unknowingly enable certain behavior,” Buzbee concluded in a statement.
Watson's legal team has maintained his innocence throughout the 24 filed lawsuits.
Narcity reached out to Watson regarding the lawsuits and allegations upon publishing. We will update the story upon response.
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