The first woman to accuse Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and stalking in a lawsuit, spoke publicly Tuesday, claiming she was terrified of her encounter with the NFL player and that he must be held accountable. for their actions.
During a press conference, Ashley Solis said she was assaulted and traumatized when she tried to give Watson a massage in March 2020. The Associated Press generally does not mention sexual assault victims, but Solís has chosen to publicly identify herself.
“I go ahead now so that Deshaun Watson doesn’t attack another woman. … I am seeking justice not only on my behalf but for all survivors. … It’s about my voice being heard, ”Solís said through tears as she read a statement, adding that she was no longer afraid to speak. Watson has been charged with assault or sexual harassment in lawsuits filed by 22 women.
Solis’s description of her encounter with Watson, in which he allegedly touched her with his penis during the massage session, reflects the allegations made by the other women in their lawsuits. They accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will while he receives a massage. At least one woman has alleged that Watson forced her to perform oral sex during a massage in December. All of the women who have sued Watson are licensed massage therapists or worked in a spa or similar business. Solís’ first lawsuit was filed on March 16 and the most recent was filed on Monday.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, called the allegations “unsubstantiated” and questioned the allegations against Watson, claiming they were made after a failed attempt to blackmail his client for $ 30,000.
The Houston Police Department said last week it was investigating Watson after a whistleblower made a report to the agency about Watson. Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 women, said it was not Solís but another of his clients who made the first report to police.
Solís said in her statement that since the alleged assault she has suffered panic attacks, anxiety, depression and no longer feels comfortable working as a masseuse.
“I entered massage therapy to heal people, to heal their minds and bodies, to bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has stolen that from me, ”Solís said, adding that her lawsuit was not about seeking money.
But in a statement, Hardin alleged that Buzbee sought “$ 100,000 in silence money” on Solis’ behalf before filing his lawsuit.
Hardin’s statement included copies of February emails between Buzbee’s firm and Scott Gaffield, an attorney for Watson, discussing the $ 100,000 settlement.
“My email exchanges … were very clear. We do not think that the facts showed that Deshaun had done something wrong with his client. We believed then, and we fully believe now, that Deshaun learned a lesson in how to put himself in this type of situation by interacting with people he does not know, ”Gaffield said in a statement.
At Tuesday’s press conference, an attorney for the Buzbee firm read a letter written by another of the women who accused Watson of sexual assault and also chose to be publicly identified.
In the letter, Lauren Baxley called Watson “a powerful predator” and alleged that he touched her with his penis several times during a massage session. He said that after the session, he felt ashamed and terrified that no one would believe him.
“There is a trauma associated with unwanted sexual contact and assault in a place that is meant to bring peace and therapy, but there are even deeper terrors that you have brought into my life,” Baxley said.
In a recent email to season ticket holders, Houston Texans president Cal McNair, whose family owns the team, said they were aware of the lawsuits against Watson and that the team takes “these allegations very Seriously”.
“While we await the conclusion of these investigations, we express our firm position against any form of sexual assault. Our family and the entire Houston Texans organization are deeply concerned about any form of abuse and we condemn this type of behavior, “said McNair.
The NFL has said it is investigating the allegations against Watson.
Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and led the NFL in passing yards last season. He signed a four-year, $ 156 million contract extension with the Texans last offseason, but was unhappy with the team’s direction when Houston sank to 4-12. Watson applied for a trade in January.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism