Twenty of the 24 women who are suing Deshaun Watson filed lawsuits in court this week to dismiss their lawsuits against the Cleveland Browns quarterback, essentially upholding the confidential settlements they made last week to their lawsuit against him to end.
It was an expected formality but also revealed exactly which cases have been 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 remaining cases 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 press her head onto his genitals. Her charges say he put pressure on her torso to prevent her from breaking free of his restraints and masturbated in front of her.
In an encounter earlier this year, her lawsuit states that he groped her. But she took him on as a client again in August 2020 because she didn’t know it was him after, according to her lawsuit, he provided a false identity the first time, saying he was “an entertainer.”
Watson has denied wrongdoing, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges. He faces a disciplinary hearing this week over whether he violated the NFL’s personal conduct guidelines and should be suspended.
USA TODAY’s policy is not to identify individuals who allege sex crimes and have not come forward publicly.
►Another remaining plaintiff is Lauren Baxley, one of the first two women to come forward publicly by name in 2021 to accuse Watson of wrongdoing. She is a licensed massage therapist who said Watson exposed himself to her and arranged for his genitals to touch her in June 2020. Watson’s attorneys found that Baxley had responded to Watson’s messages 19 times after their encounter, suggesting that she wasn’t worried about what had happened between them.
Baxley’s attorneys, Tony Buzbee and Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, responded by noting that Baxley’s counsel “stated that it is not uncommon for victims to keep in touch with their abusers.”
►A third active plaintiff is a woman who said Watson came to her mother’s home in Manvel, Texas, more than 30 minutes’ drive south of Houston, for a massage. According to Watson’s most recent testimony, he came to this home with his personal towel and a non-disclosure agreement for her to sign. Her lawsuit alleges that he exposed himself and ejaculated on her during her second encounter with him in November 2020.
A grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas, declined to indict Watson in the case after the woman testified there. A Houston police officer investigating 10 criminal charges against Watson still said the woman’s case was one of the strongest.
“That was a really strong and compelling report,” Detective Kamesha Baker testified in recent pretrial testimony in Watson’s civil trial.
This is the same active plaintiff who recently sued Watson’s former team, the Houston Texans, accusing the team of enabling Watson’s conduct.
►The fourth remaining plaintiff is Ashley Solis, the first plaintiff to sue Watson in March 2021 and the first to publicly speak out. Baker said in her statement, “The strongest suit for me was Ashley Solis.”
Watson wrote her an apology after the massage in March 2020 and admitted in a pre-trial statement in May 2022 that she was “in tears” at the end of their encounter, but he didn’t know why. She said she cried because she was afraid of his behavior, which she said he exposed himself to and touched her with his genitals. Solis recently appeared in an interview on HBO and was considered possibly the strongest plaintiff of the 24th season.
Of the 20 women who resigned, two filed lawsuits in May and June this year. They were the newest of the 24 plaintiffs, after the previous 22 filed their lawsuits in March and April 2021.
“Plaintiff’s non-complaint is effective immediately upon filing,” read one of her filings on Wednesday. “Therefore, bearing in mind the conditions, plaintiff prays that the court will note that she has prejudiced her dismissals of all of her claims against Deshaun Watson.”
Solis and Baxley were considered the two plaintiffs closest to a trial. The two sides had agreed not to hold any trials during the August-March football season, but if Watson is suspended from playing football this fall, it’s also possible they could change that agreement and go to court earlier in some of those cases.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: [email protected]