Twenty the 24 women who sued Deshaun Watson filed notices in court to dismiss their arguments against the Cleveland Browns quarterback this week, essentially confirming the confidentiality they reached last week to end their litigation against him.
This was an expected formality, but it also revealed exactly which cases are settled and which four remain active after all 24 women accused Watson of sexual misconduct in massage sessions in 2020 and early 2021.
The four cases that remain active are:
►A woman who accused Watson of sexual assault at a Houston spa in August 2020 when she said he asked her to perform oral sex on him and tried to push her head down to his genitals. Her lawsuit states he applied pressure to her upper body to prevent her from being released from his restraint and masturbated in front of her.
In a previous encounter that year, her argument states he groped her. But she took him again as a client in August 2020 because she did n’t realize it was him after he gave a false identity on the first occasion stating he was “an entertainer,” according to her arguments.
Watson has denied wrongdoing, and two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him on criminal charges. He is facing a disciplinary hearing this week on whether he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and should be suspended for it.
USA TODAY’s policy is to not identify individuals who allege sexual crimes and haven’t come forward publicly.
►Another remaining plaintiff is Lauren Baxley, one of the first two women who came forward publicly by name accuse Watson of misconduct in 2021. She is a licensed massage therapist who said Watson exposed himself to her and caused his genitals to touch her in June 2020. Watson’s attorneys noted Baxley responded to Watson’s messages 19 times after their encounter, suggesting she wasn’t troubled by whatever happened between them.
Baxley’s attorneys, Tony Buzbee and Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, responded to that by noting that Baxley’s counselor “explained that it is not uncommon for victims to keep in contact with their abusers.”
►A third active plaintiff is a woman who said Watson came to her mother’s house for a massage in Manvel, Texas, more than a 30-minute drive south of Houston. He came to that house with his own personal towel and a non-disclosure agreement for her to sign, according to Watson’s recent deposition testimony. Her claimed he exposed himself and ejaculated on her in her second encounter with him in November 2020.
A grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas, declined to indict Watson in this case after the woman tested there. A Houston police detective who investigated 10 criminal complaints against Watson still said this woman’s case was one of the strongest.
“That was a really powerful and compelling account,” detective Kamesha Baker tested in a recent pretrial deposition in the civil litigation against Watson.
This is the same active plaintiff who also recently sued Watson’s former team, the Houston Texans, acc 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. Baker said in her deposition “the strongest suit to me was Ashley Solis.”
Watson texted every moment apology after the massage in March 2020 and admitted in a pretrial deposition in May 2022 that she was “teary-eyed” at the end of their encounter but he didn’t know why. She said she was crying because she was scared by his conduct, which she said included him exposing himself to her and touching her with his genitals. Solis recently appeared in an interview on HBO and was considered possibly the strongest 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 newest of the 24 plaintiffs after the previous 22 filed their lawsuits in March and April of 2021.
“Plaintiff’s nonsuit is effective immediately upon filing,” stated one of their filings, dated Wednesday. “Wherefore premises considered, Plaintiff prays that the Court take notice that she has dismissed all her claims against Deshaun Watson with prejudice.”
Solis and Baxley were considered the two plaintiffs closest to going to trial. The two sides had 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, it’s also possible they could change that agreement and go to trial in some of these cases earlier.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org