Update 04/07/2021 8:20pm:
Deshaun Watson's attorney has released alleged emails from the lawyer of his client's accusers.
The emails come after Rusty Hardin responded to Ashley Solis' press conference with her attorney, Tony Buzbee. In his response, Hardin stated that the lawsuits were all about money and claimed Solis approached one of Watson's reps for $100,000 in hush money.
While the alleged email chain supports Hardin's claims, others wonder how much exposing the emails help to paint Watson as completely innocent. Towards the end of the email exchange, Watson's rep claims the football star did nothing wrong but "can learn a lesson about having put himself in this situation."
Take a look above to view the email exchange.
Source: Black Sports Online
Update 04/07/2021 9:37am:
Deshaun Watson's attorney Rusty Hardin spoke out after Ashley Solis revealed herself to be "Jane Doe #1" in the sexual misconduct lawsuit against the Houston Texans star.
Hardin states that the lawsuit is all about money, and he claims that Solis approached one of Watson's reps in February asking for $100,000 in hush money. Hardin added that he has emails from Cornelia Brandfield-Harveyan, an associate of Solis' lawyer, Tony Buzbee. The email from Brandfield-Harveyan reportedly states, "My client’s demand is $100,000," and, "This offer remains open until Friday of this week."
Watson's rep then replied, stating, "We don’t believe that the alleged facts show that Deshaun did anything wrong with regards to Ms. Solis, but we are nevertheless happy to continue the conversation around a reasonable settlement figure because we believe he can learn a lesson about having put himself in this situation."
Buzbee then replied, "We made a legit demand. You rejected it. We won’t be making another or bid against ourselves. We also won’t be having an extended dialogue about why you think your client did nothing wrong or how you want this to be a 'learning' experience for your 'high profile athlete,' as you refer to him. 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. Talk soon."
Buzbee filed the lawsuit on March 16, and 21 women have filed similar lawsuits against Watson since then.
Original 04/06/2021 5:09pm:
The first of 22 women suing Deshaun Watson for sexual misconduct went public with her story at a news conference on Tuesday.
Ashley Solis, the first massage therapist to accuse the Houston Texans quarterback, said Watson sexually assaulted and harassed her in her home on March 30, 2020. According to the lawsuit, he "purposely" exposed himself and "purposely" touched Solis with his penis after repeatedly asking her to focus on his groin area. The lawsuit also claimed Watson later apologized.
"I replay the incident over and over in my head as if I'm trying to wake up from some horrible nightmare, only this nightmare is real," Solis said. "I feel a range of emotions: guilt, embarrassment, shame, courage, anger, sadness, and numbness. Some days I feel like a hero. Other days I feel like a failure."
During the conference, Solis spoke out against the victim-blaming and negative comments she's witnessed online. She also expressed hope that her story will encourage others to come forward.
"I blame myself at times, which is insane," she added. "Society has groomed women to believe that it's their fault…as if, somehow, we asked for it or we could have prevented it."
The attorney representing the 22 accusers sat by Solis' side during the conference and revealed that he discouraged her from coming forward.
"Ashley Solis is a very brave person," Tony Buzbee said. "She was the first individual who filed a lawsuit and it is because of her bravery that we are here. She has been a pioneer. You have heard from the Watson team that they want to know the identity of these victims - that maybe they don't even exist...that we've been trying to hide their identity. Well, that is not true. I introduce to you Ashley Solice. She will not be bullied."
In addition to Solis coming forward, Watson's second accuser also came forward without revealing her identity. A massage therapist named Lauren Baxley also went public with a letter addressed to the football star, which another lawyer read aloud.
"I am furious that the talented and hard-working young Black man that gave so many children inspiration is nothing more than a predator with power," the letter read. "I am heartbroken for your family, for your loved ones, for those coming to terms with the fact that your charitable work and good-guy persona are nothing more than a meticulously designed façade to keep your victims silent."
Last week, Watson's attorney released 18 statements from female masseuses defending the NFL quarterback. While no criminal charges have been filed against Watson, one of the cases is being investigated by the Houston Police Department.