NFL star Deshaun Watson claims sex assault accuser demanded $100K hush money as two women speak out publicly
Ashley Solis, who was the first massage therapist to lodge a lawsuit against the 25-year-old in March, said at a news conference that she got into her profession to "heal people".
"To heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls," she continued.
"Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that. He took that away from me, he tainted a profession in which I take enormous pride... [Now] I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and depression. I'm in counseling as a result of Deshaun Watson's actions," Solis added.
"I hope he knows how much pain he's inflicted on me emotionally and physically. And I hope he knows how much pain he's inflicted on these other survivors."
Ashley Solis is the first woman to come forward publicly to accuse Deshaun Watson of sexual assault'"I am survivor of assault and harassment, Deshaun Watson is my assaulter and my harasser, he assaulted me at my home doing what I love most, massage therapy" pic.twitter.com/oA8luucYNk— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 6, 2021
"People say that I'm doing this just for money," Solis also said. "That is false. I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman."
Yet in response to the news conference, where two of the 22 women that have made complaints against the quarterback spoke out, Watson's legal team have suggested that Solis' initial motivations were based on financial gain.Also on rt.com ‘Touching her with his penis’: NFL star Deshaun Watson faces MORE assault claims from massage therapists
In a statement, Rusty Hardin's law firm said that Tony Buzbee's, representing Solis, "sought $100,000 in hush money on behalf of Ms. Solis to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit."
Email exchanges between the Buzbee Law Firm and lawyer Scott Gaffield - representing Watson - from February 3 and 9 this year were also included and referred to.
"My email exchanges with Mr. Buzbee and Ms. Brandfield-Harvey were very clear," wrote Gaffield.
"We did not think that the facts showed that Deshaun did anything wrong with their client. We believed then - and fully believe now - that Deshaun learned a lesson about putting himself in this type of situation by interacting with people he does not know.
"As the emails show, we were willing to continue discussions on Deshaun's behalf to explore ways to prevent a lawsuit and a public spectacle. But Mr. Buzbee informed us that he was unwilling to do so. We expect that this matter will be resolved in court."
Deshaun Watson's attorney Rusty Hardin has released a statement regarding today's press conference, saying in part that Ashley Solis (original plaintiff) and Tony Buzbee sought $100,000 in hush money to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit. pic.twitter.com/C1YESdhEXL— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 6, 2021
Separately, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that the league finds the allegations "deeply disturbing" and is taking them "very seriously".
Nike announced on Wednesday that it had suspended its sponsorship of the star, stating: "We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation."