THE attorney of NFL star Deshaun Watson has hit back at the first of more than 20 of his accusers, Ashley Solis, claiming she demanded $100,000 in "hush money."
Twenty two women have filed sexual assault claims again the Houston Texans quarterback in the past month, including Solis, who on Tuesday claimed Watson acted inappropriately during a massage therapy session in March 2020.
Solis – who previously identified as "Jane Doe" – added that Watson purposely exposed himself and "purposely" touched her with his penis, leading her to end the massage and resulting in the 25-year-old apologizing for his actions.
The 22 women are being represented by former Houston mayoral candidate Anthony Buzbee.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Watson's attorney Rusty Hardin wrote: "Mr. Buzbee himself repeatedly claimed that the litigation he filed on behalf of other Jane Does "isn't about money.'
He added: "In fact, according to documentation below, 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.
HUSH MONEY CLAIMS
"'My client's demand is $100,000,' Mr. Buzbee associate Cornelia Bradfield-Harvey wrote in a February 9, 2021 email on behalf of Ms. Solis. Ms. Brandfied-Harvey followed up with clarification of the $100,00 demand later that same day. 'This offer remains open until Friday of this week,' Mr. Buzbee is copied on all of the emails."
In a response to Buzbee and Brandfield-Harvey on February 19, Gaffield, the General Counsel at the Athletes First agency of Laguna Beach, wrote, "We don’t believe that the alleged facts show that Deshaun did anything wrote…," according to Hardin's statement.
Hardin also described the claims against his client as "meritless."
Last week the attorney sought to counter accusations by releasing on-the-record statements from 18 therapists, who he claimed had said they had positive interactions with Watson.
During a press conference in Texas, Solis, a massage therapist, tearfully said that she shakes when she recalls the "terrible things" that Watson did.
Solis, claims she now can’t touch a patient without shaking, and revealed that images of Watson flash across her mind during sessions with other patients.
"I am survivor of assault and harassment, Deshaun Watson is my assaulter and my harasser," Solis said, adding that she has struggled through panic attacks, anxiety, depression.
TEARFUL PRESS CONFERENCE
"I replay the incident over and over in my head as if I'm trying to wake up for some horrible nightmare – only that nightmare is real."
Solis spoke alongside Buzbee, who revealed another of Watson's accusers to be Lauren Baxley.
Baxley did not attend the conference but wrote a strong letter which was read out.
"Every boundary, from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading, you crossed or attempted to cross," Baxley wrote
Solis was the very first woman to anonymously file a sexual misconduct lawsuit against Watson three weeks ago.
She said that she first filed the lawsuit under an alias as she feared backlash but now felt empowered to come forward.
“Some days I feel like a hero, other days I feel like a failure,” Solis said.
"I can no longer practice the profession I love the most without shaking…I hope he knew how heartbreaking that is to me," she continued.
“I got into massage therapy to heal people. To heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that."
Solis said that her father was once a "diehard Texans fan" but "can no longer mention his name without turning red."
"We were all deceived into thinking Deshaun Watson was a good guy and unfortunately we know that good guys can do terrible things," she alleged.
Solis added that she hopes Watson "knows how much pain he's inflicted on me physically and emotionally."
She hit out at Watson after he denied the allegations and said she would "not let him win."
"He needs to be held accountable for his actions," said Solis.
"I will not let Deshaun Watson define who I am."
The NFL is also independently investigating Watson, who has denies all claims.
He claims to have turned down settlement demands from early accusers.
Last week, the Texans star also issued a statement from 18 female massage therapists, which claimed that he has never placed them in an uncomfortable position and is a respectful client.
All of Watson's accusers apart from Solis and Baxley continue to use an alias.
He claimed that some of the women were asked to sign an NDA before or after meeting the NFL star.
Houston PD has confirmed that an investigation is underway but no charges have been filed.
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