The Deshaun Watson offseason saga has taken another unexpected turn. After weeks of anonymous sexual assault accusations from numerous women, Watson‘s first accuser has finally come forward to reveal her identity. In an emotional Tuesday press conference with her attorney, Tony Buzbee, Ashley Solis detailed the night she claims Watson assaulted her during a massage therapy session at her house.
Deshaun Watson’s number of accusers reaches 22
Deshaun Watson entered the 2021 NFL offseason thinking his future with the Houston Texans was going to be the biggest problem he’d face this summer. But that all changed last month. On March 16, a sexual assault lawsuit was filed against Watson by a woman who became known as Jane Doe 1. Six days later, another lawsuit was filed against Watson using the same Texas attorney, Tony Buzbee.
Since then, 20 additional women have come forward to accuse Watson of similar assaults involving massages, bringing the list to 22.
Watson immediately came out and denied the accusations after the first lawsuit was filed. In a Twitter statement, Watson said he’s “never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect” and that “this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”
“I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false,” Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement at the time.
Although 22 different women have come forward to accuse Watson of sexual assault over the last few weeks, none of them had revealed their names or faces. Until Tuesday.
Watson’s first accuser reveals her identity in emotional press conference
On Tuesday morning, Ashley Soris, who went by the alias Jane Doe 1 for nearly a month, revealed her identity and spoke to the media in an emotional press conference alongside Buzbee. Soris, who is a licensed massage therapist, initially claimed Watson went “too far” during a session at her home last March.
“I hope every woman or man out there who is a survivor hears my story, and I hope my story gives them courage to speak out.”
“I’m not afraid anymore,” Soris said as she wiped away tears. “I’m here to take back the power and take back control. I’m a survivor of assault and harassment. Some days I feel like a hero, other days I feel like a failure.
“I can no longer practice the profession I love the most without my hands shaking during the session. 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 went on to say she isn’t here for a hefty payout.
“We were all deceived into thinking Deshaun Watson was a good guy, and unfortunately we know that good guys can do terrible things,” Solis said. “People say that I’m doing this just for money. That is false. I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman.”
Second accuser comes forward against Deshaun Watson
After Solis finished speaking at the press conference, Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, a member of the Buzbee law firm, read a letter to Deshaun Watson from another accuser who decided to reveal her identity — Lauren Baxley.
“Every boundary, from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading, you crossed or attempted to cross,” Baxley wrote regarding a June 2 massage session from last year. “I did not want to touch you but my terror kept me in autopilot.”
Baxley went on to call Watson a “predator with power” in her letter.
Now that two of Watson’s accusers have come forth to reveal their identities to the public, how many more will now follow suit?