Ashley Solis, Lauren Baxley Come Forward as Plaintiffs in Deshaun Watson Lawsuits

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2021

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Two women, Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley, came forward to identify themselves as plaintiffs in two of the civil suits against Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson. 

"Remember that name," Solis told reporters during a press conference Tuesday. "... I was afraid. I’m not afraid anymore."

Solis said Watson "assaulted me in my home."

"I can no longer practice the profession I love most," she said. "I got into massage therapy to heal people. He took that away from me."

Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, an attorney for Baxley, read a letter her client directed at Watson:

Tony Buzbee, the lawyer representing Solis, said she has provided a statement to Houston police.

Solis went on to explain how she continues to be impacted by her encounter with Watson, per Front Office Sports' A.J. Perez:

"I replay the incident over and over in my head, as if I am trying to wake up from some nightmare. Only that nightmare is real. I blame myself at times, which is insane.
"My hands shake when I place them on a client and I have to cut the session short. If you only knew how heartbreaking that is for me."

Solis said the idea that money was her primary motivation behind filing the suit is "false."

"I come forward now in hopes Deshaun Watson does not hurt another woman," she told reporters

Rusty Hardin, Watson's attorney, issued a response on Tuesday, saying Buzbee sought $100,000 on behalf of Solis in order to settle the matter.

Perez shared a copy of Solis' formal complaint. She was the first of 22 women to file a lawsuit against Watson.

She said Watson first reached out in a direct message on Instagram to line up a massage on March 28, 2020. The complaint said she "found it somewhat peculiar that a NFL player would request a massage from her" because she didn't have a pre-existing working relationship with Watson or another Texans player. Watson and Solis agreed to set up a massage for March 30, 2020.

When the time came to begin the session, Solis said Watson was naked on the massage table, with a small towel he had brought covering his groin. He allegedly instructed her focus on massaging his groin area and "specifically kept trying to direct her to his penis."

"Watson purposely touched Plaintiff's hand with the tip of his erect penis," the complaint reads.

The Texans quarterback allegedly issued a veiled threat to Solis to remain quiet about their session, or he'd potentially seek to harm her reputation.

The NFL issued a statement on Tuesday, calling the allegations against Watson "deeply disturbing":

Watson is facing 22 lawsuits, per ESPN's Sarah Barshop, with Buzbee telling reporters Tuesday his firm declined to pursue five more cases. Many of the allegations align with Solis' account. Multiple women said he made unwanted sexual advances and touched them with his penis during a massage. At least five women said he ejaculated over the course of a session.

Another woman, who has not yet filed a lawsuit, detailed similar inappropriate behavior by Watson during a massage with her in the fall of 2019 to Sports Illustrated's Jenny Vrentas

Watson's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement March 23 denying the accusations.

"Any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false," Hardin said.

Hardin also said Watson and his representatives "will fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department" as part of any criminal investigation.

The Houston Police Department said Friday it was investigating a criminal complaint it received concerning Watson, though the nature of the complaint was not announced.