Lawyer says 20 of 24 lawsuits against Deshaun Watson have been settled
- Quarterback was accused of sexual misconduct by women
- Four women have yet to settle their cases against Browns player
The lawyer representing the women who have accused Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct says 20 of the 24 lawsuits against the player have been settled.
The women have alleged Watson booked massage therapy sessions with them and then sexually harassed them. Watson has denied the allegations.
The women’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee, said on Tuesday that Ashley Solis, the first woman to come forward with the allegations against Watson, has not settled her case. Solis recently appeared on HBO’s Real Sports and said the $230m contract that Watson signed with the Cleveland Browns earlier this year felt like “a big screw you”. Buzbee said three other women have not reached a settlement.
Buzbee praised Solis in his statement on Tuesday.
“The cases against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis. At the time of that call she was just one of the hundreds of calls seeking legal assistance that our firm gets weekly. Even though she was originally turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I personally speak with her. I’m glad she persisted. Once we took a second look, and after having contact with Watson’s original lawyer who disrespected Ashley and her profession and who arrogantly minimized the conduct of someone he referred to as an ‘asset,’ I was convinced that our law firm should try to help her. As a result of Ashley’s lone but brave voice, soon many women who had allegedly experienced the same conduct were emboldened to step forward. I am incredibly proud to represent them all,” Buzbee said in his statement.
“They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withering cross examination by skilled litigators and stood firm. They are warriors all. Today we have an important announcement about these cases, but it is important to point out that, without Ashley Solis, the conduct experienced by these women would likely have continued unfettered. 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; sports teams wouldn’t be reviewing their personnel screening processes; and this important story wouldn’t have dominated the sports headlines for more than a year.
“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled. We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.
“As stated, Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story. Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue. I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule.”
The NFL is investigating the allegations against Watson, and the 26-year-old could face a lengthy suspension if the league finds he violated its personal conduct policy. Two grand juries in Texas have declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints filed by 10 of his accusers.
Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler who turns 27 in September, missed the entirety of last season due to a dispute with his team, the Houston Texans, as the allegations against him mounted. He was eventually traded to the Browns.