HOUSTON - One of the women who accused Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct has spoken out about her experience after coming forward against the former Houston Texans quarterback and criticized the National Football League over its proceedings.
Ashley Solis joined Tony Buzbee and other lawyers, who represented the plaintiffs, Thursday afternoon during a press conference. Watson was accused by two dozen women in Texas of sexual misconduct during massage treatments while he played for the Houston Texans.
Buzbee confirmed that all 30 cases against the Texans organization had been settled, and one case that was formally filed will shortly be dismissed.
He also confirmed all cases, but one, against Watson have been settled and will be dismissed as soon as the paperwork is filed out, and the settlements are funded.
Buzbee went onto describe the work his law firm conducted on the cases, saying they spent more than $250,000.
"There were thousands of pages of documents that were exchanged, each of which had to be carefully reviewed," he said. "There were more than 100 witnesses who were questioned. There were 30 formal depositions taken, with each witness placed under oath videotaped and their testimony transcribed."
Buzbee said the one case remaining is "strikingly similar" to the ones brought by other women. He said the plaintiff is a licensed massage therapist, who Watson allegedly found on Instagram. She was one of the first to speak out and to file suit. Buzbee has not identified her or specified her claims.
"The detailed facts and her filed petition speak for themselves," he said, adding that she was interviewed at length by the NFL.
The press conference on Thursday, came a day after the NFL announced it was appealing a disciplinary officer’s decision to suspend the Cleveland Browns quarterback for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The move gives Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he designates authority to impose a stiffer penalty.
Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson issued her ruling Monday. Robinson’s punishment fell well short of the indefinite suspension of at least one year sought by the league. On Thursday afternoon, Goodell chose former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal.
"It is a given that the NFL's disciplinary process is a juggled mess. It has been so inconsistent in the past that it's hard to take it seriously," Buzbee said on Thursday in response to Watson's punishment. "Worse yet, everyone knows that the NFL's record on women's issues is sketchy and sad. If they asked, it could be described as inconsistently dismal."
Buzbee went on to describe how the NFL interviewed his clients -- only 10 were interviewed.
"From the beginning, when the first questions asked by the NFL investigators of our clients was, ‘What were you wearing?’ that gave us a lot of pause," the attorney recounted. "Some of the interviews spent most of the time on a deep dive of the victim and little to no questions about the conduct that was being alleged. In some cases, it was our view, that when the questioners weren't being aggressive and hostile, they really weren't that interested in what was being said or what actually happened."
Following the NFL's decision, prior to the appeal, Buzbee says he asked his clients what their thoughts were. He read some of their answers:
"Six games even isn't even a slap on the wrist. It's a kiss on the cheek."
"They did not really investigate, because they do not care."
"They investigated, to the extent you call it that, to save face. They don't care if women or people are abused."
"This slap on the wrist for him is a slap on the face to us."
"It's been made clear to me, the NFL, with regard to myself, my family and all these women and our children do not matter. We do not matter to the NFL."
Solis, who is one of two women who have come out publicly against Watson, shared how "emotionally and mentally taxing" the last two and a half years have been.
DISTURBING DETAILS: Woman files lawsuit against Houston Texans over Deshaun Watson massage session
"I've received multiple death threats," she said. "Had angry people approach me in public, and I've had hundreds if not thousands of people say terrible and vile things about me on the Internet."
Solis says she became numb and eventually fell into a deep depression until she began receiving support.
"Then one at a time I started receiving letters in the mail, the emails from random people all over the country about how they supported me. They believed me and had been inspired by me," she said. "If you are any of these people and if you are watching now, I am so grateful for you.
Statements of support helped me remember who I am, who I was, and why I decided to put myself in the public eye and make myself as vulnerable as I've ever felt in my entire life. I'm here today and have been here for all the little girls, women and humans in general who ever felt that they didn't have the power to speak up."
She then addressed the investigation and punishment conducted by the NFL.
"What do the actions of the NFL say to little girls who have suffered at the hands of someone perceived to have power? That it's not a big deal.
That they don't care. Tough shit. That's what I've taken from their actions.
"So instead, I'll let my actions say something different to those same little girls. No matter how scary, big or powerful someone may seem. They are just humans. And like all humans, we all have the right to have our voices heard."
FOX 26 has reached out to Watson's attorney for comment.