Twenty of the 24 women who sued Deshaun Watson filed notices in court to dismiss lawsuits against the Cleveland Browns quarterback this week, essentially confirming the confidential settlements they reached last week to end litigation against him.
This was an expected formality, but it also revealed exactly which cases had been settled and which ones were still active after all 24 women accused Watson of sexual misconduct in massages in 2020 and early 2021.
The four cases that are still active are:
► A woman accused Watson of sexual assault at a Houston resort in August 2020 when she said he asked her to have oral sex with him and he tried to push her head into his genitals. Her lawsuit states that he exerted pressure on her upper body to prevent her from releasing him from restraining and masturbating in front of her eyes.
In an earlier confrontation that year, her lawsuit states that he touched her. But she took him back as a client in August 2020 because she didn’t realize it was him after he presented a false identity the first time saying he was an “artist,” according to her lawsuit.
Watson has denied wrongdoing, and two Texas grand juries have refused to bring criminal charges against him. He faces a disciplinary hearing this week over whether he violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy and should be suspended for doing so.
It is USA TODAY’s policy not to identify individuals who allege sexual offenses and who have not come forward publicly.
► Another remaining plaintiff is Lauren Baxley, who is one of the first two women to publicly come forward by name to accuse Watson of misconduct in 2021. She is a licensed massage therapist who said Watson exposed himself to her and caused him to touch his genitals in June. 2020. Watson’s lawyers note that Baxley replied to Watson’s messages 19 times after they met, indicating that she was not disturbed by what happened between them.
Baxley’s attorneys, Tony Busby and Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, responded by noting that Baxley’s counsel “made it clear that it was not uncommon for victims to remain in contact with their abusers.”
The third active plaintiff is a woman who said Watson came to her mother’s home for a massage in Manville, Texas, more than a 30-minute drive south of Houston. He came to that house with his own towel and a non-disclosure agreement to sign, according to Watson’s recent testimony. The lawsuit she filed stated that he revealed himself and revealed himself to her in her second meeting with him in November 2020.
A grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas, declined to indict Watson in the case after the woman testified there. The Houston police investigator, who investigated 10 criminal complaints against Watson, said this woman’s case was one of the strongest.
“This was a really powerful and compelling account,” Detective Kamisha Baker testified in her final pretrial testimony in the civil lawsuit against Watson.
This is the same active plaintiff who recently filed a lawsuit against former Watson team, the Houston Texans, accusing the team of enabling Watson’s behavior.
► The fourth remaining plaintiff is Ashley Solis, the first plaintiff to sue Watson in March 2021 and the first to come forward publicly. “The strongest suit for me was Ashley Solis,” Baker said in her testimony.
Watson sent her a letter of apology after the March 2020 massage and admitted in a pretrial statement in May 2022 that she was “drenched in tears” at the end of their meeting but he did not know why. She said she was crying because she was afraid of his behavior, which she said included exposing himself to her and touching his genitals. Solis recently appeared in an interview on HBO and was seen as probably the strongest plaintiff out of the 24.
Of the 20 women who filed notices of dismissal, two filed lawsuits in May and June of this year. They were the latest among 24 plaintiffs after they filed 22 lawsuits in March and April of 2021.
One of their filings, dated Wednesday, stated that “the claim not filed by the plaintiff is effective immediately upon filing.” “So the premises have been considered, the plaintiff prays that the court will take notice that it has dismissed all of her claims against Deshaun Watson with bias.”
Solis and Baxley were considered the plaintiffs closest to trial. The two sides have reached an agreement not to schedule trials during the football season from August to March, but if Watson is suspended from playing football this fall, they will also likely change that agreement and go to trial in some of those cases earlier.
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