Twenty of the 22 women who filed lawsuits against Deshaun Watson now have attached their names to their allegations, raising the stakes in an escalating legal battle over whether the NFL quarterback engaged in sexual misconduct during therapy sessions.
Citing privacy and security concerns, one of the 22 women also has withdrawn her case against the Houston Texans quarterback “for now.” That woman stated she “reserves the right to refile this case once such concerns are addressed,” according to court documents filed in her case.
One of the women had not refiled her lawsuit or it was not publicly available as of Wednesday morning.
The naming of the names comes after all the women initially filed civil lawsuits against Watson under the pseudonym Jane Doe.
One of the plaintiffs – Ashley Solis – then decided to speak publicly about her case last week, saying Watson was “my assaulter and my harasser.” Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has said the claims are false and went to court to try to force the rest of the women to reveal their identities.
The attorney for the women, Tony Buzbee, responded with a statement Tuesday evening.
“It appears the Watson team thinks that if these courageous women are forced to identify themselves, they would slink away and not pursue this matter,” said a statement from Buzbee, who represents all 22 women. “Watson and his counsel badly miscalculated. Due to the bravery of Ashley Solis to come forward publicly, and despite the death threats she has experienced, these women are now emboldened.”
The women are described in the lawsuits as massage therapists, estheticians and fitness and wellness professionals. Many alleged Watson contacted them via Instagram to arrange for their services and then exposed himself to them and caused them to touch his genitals. Most of the alleged incidents took place in the Houston area, where Watson lives.
Hardin said last week were “sometimes consensual encounters” during Watson’s massage sessions and said the question “has always been about consent.”
“Never, at any time, under any circumstances … did this young man ever engage in anything that was not mutually desired by the other party,” Hardin said.
He called the filing of anonymous lawsuits “a new model for extortion.”
The women seek compensatory damages after they filed their cases since March 16 in Harris County, Texas. The Houston Police are investigating at least one complaint involving Watson, 25, but declined to give further details.
The NFL also is investigating the matter and could suspend the quarterback depending on its findings.