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“I’m not afraid anymore," Ashley Solis, one of Deshaun Watson's accusers, told reporters. "I am here to take back the power and take back control."

By Christine Pelisek
April 07, 2021 02:57 PM
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Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson
| Credit: Peter G. Aiken/Getty

Two of Deshaun Watson's accusers came forward on Tuesday, marking the first time any of the 22 women to file a civil lawsuit against the NFL quarterback have publicly identified themselves.

Houston massage therapist Ashley Solis, one of the accusers, said she was afraid to speak out at first. 

"I'm not afraid anymore," she told reporters at a press conference. "I am here to take back the power and take back control."

Watson allegedly assaulted and harassed Solis in her home on March 30, 2020, according to a civil suit against the Houston Texans quarterback.

According to the lawsuit, Watson allegedly exposed himself during a massage and purposely touched her hand with his penis. When she asked him to leave, Watson allegedly told her, "I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just like I don't want anyone messing with mine."  

"I replay the incident over and over in my head, as if I'm trying to wake up from some horrible nightmare," she said. "Only that nightmare is real."   

Since the incident, Solis said she "can no longer practice the profession that I love the most without shaking during session."

"My hands shake whenever I place them on a client and I have to cut the session short," she said. "I got into massage therapy to heal people. To heal their minds and bodies, to bring peace in their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that. He took that away from me. He tainted a profession in which I take enormous pride."  

The second accuser, Lauren Baxley, didn't attend the press conference but a letter she wrote was read by an attorney on her behalf. 

Baxley said that Watson allegedly reached out to her on Instagram, and at first she was excited to work with the athlete. She said during the massage that Watson allegedly exposed himself, purposely touched her hand with his penis, and told her to "just grab it if it was in my way."

"Every boundary between professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading, you crossed or attempted to cross," she wrote.

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Watson has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement after the press conference, Watson's attorneys said Anthony Buzbee, who is representing all of the alleged victims, "sought $100,000 in hush money on behalf of Ms. Solis to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit."

In an Instagram post, Buzbee responded by saying the allegations against Watson are not compromised by trying to settle the issues without a lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the day after the press conference, Nike suspended its endorsement deal with the quarterback.

"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation," Nike said in a statement, ESPN reports. 

Sources told ESPN that Beats by Dre was planning to nix its sponsorship deal with Watson as well.