2 massage therapists have gone public with sexual-assault allegations against quarterback Deshaun Watson, shedding their anonymity

2 massage therapists have gone public with sexual-assault allegations against quarterback Deshaun Watson, shedding their anonymity
Deshaun Watson.AP Photo/Zach Bolinger
  • Twenty-two women have filed lawsuits against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, alleging sexual misconduct.
  • On Tuesday, two of the women who filed suits spoke publicly for the first time.
  • According to CNBC, Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Watson.

Twenty-two women have filed lawsuits against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, alleging sexual assault and misconduct.

On Tuesday, two of the women involved in those suits spoke out for the first time, making their identities public. In the suits, the plaintiffs are referred to as Jane Does.

Ashley Solis, a massage therapist who filed suit against Watson on March 16, spoke at a news conference with her attorney, Tony Buzbee.
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"I got into massage therapy to heal people," Solis said. "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."

Solis said that since the alleged incident, she has suffered from panic attacks, anxiety, and depression.

"People say that I'm doing this just for money," she said. "That is false. I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman."
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Solis and the other women in the suits allege a pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior by Watson during massages. Some of the allegations suggest Watson exposed himself during appointments and directed the therapists to focus on his groin, then moved his body so that his penis would touch their hands.

The second woman who came forward, Lauren Baxley, wrote a letter that was read aloud by lawyer Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, who works with Buzbee. "Every boundary from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading you crossed or attempted to cross," Baxley wrote.
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According to a report from CNBC, Nike has suspended Watson's endorsement deal.

"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation," Nike said in a statement to CNBC.

Beats by Dre is also reportedly parting ways with Watson, according to A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports.
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Watson and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, have denied the allegations against the quarterback. They said Solis' lawsuit came after a failed attempt to get money from Watson.

"Mr. Buzbee sought $100,000 in hush money on behalf of Ms. Solis to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit," Hardin said in a statement.

The statement included excerpts of an email exchange that Hardin says Watson's lawyers had with the Buzbee Law Firm.
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"My email exchanges with Mr. Buzbee and Ms. Brandfield-Harvey were very clear," Scott Gaffield, a lawyer who represents Watson through the Athletes First agency, said in a 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."

The identities of the remaining women who have filed suits against Watson remain unknown. In one of the lawsuits, a woman alleges that Watson "coerced plaintiff to move her mouth towards his penis, forcing plaintiff to perform oral sex on him."

On Tuesday, the NFL issued a statement.
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"The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these issues very seriously," the league's vice president of communications, Brian McCarthy, said. "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. We are continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter."

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