On Thursday, attorney Tony Buzbee held a press conference to announce that almost all the civil litigation against the Houston Texans and their former quarterback, Deshaun Watson, had been resolved. The Texans, as previously announced, have settled with 30 women who said Watson committed sexual misconduct during professional massage appointments he scheduled with them. Of the 24 civil lawsuits filed directly against Watson—which described behavior that included finding ways to touch them with his penis and ejaculating on them—all but one have been settled, Buzbee said.
Buzbee then spoke at length about the many failures of the NFL’s investigation into Watson’s conduct, which resulted in a six-game suspension for Watson, now with the Cleveland Browns. He said investigators asked his clients what they were wearing, and some interviews became deep dives into his clients, with few questions about what Watson did. Buzbee said they made 10 women available to the NFL, but the NFL “wasn’t really interested in talking to them.” Sworn statements they tried to submit to the NFL were rejected, he said, and none of the women were called to testify at the hearing before former judge Sue L. Robinson—they, like the rest of us, found out what was happening through the news.
That all this is now known—story after story after story by women saying they thought Watson had hired them for a professional massage, only to be harassed and harmed by his behavior—is because of Ashley Solis. It was Solis, a licensed massage therapist, who reached out to a lawyer about what happened during her appointment with Watson, and that lawyer referred her to Buzbee. It was Solis who sued first, and Solis who first spoke out using her name. On Thursday, Solis spoke about what the past two years have been like for her, the harassment she endured from fans, as well as the support she received from others, and what she thought of the NFL’s process and procedures.
Here is her statement in full, as transcribed by Defector Media.
These past two-and-a-half years for me have been a very trying time. The whole situation has been emotionally and mentally taxing. I’ve received multiple death threats, had angry people approach me in public, and have had hundreds, if not thousands, of people say terrible and vile things about me on the internet.
In the beginning, this type of conduct really hurt me. But then, as time went by, I became numb to it. There then came a time where I looked at myself in the mirror and I had no idea who I was looking at. People kept telling me I should be proud of speaking up and that what I was doing was the right thing. Even so, it was just really hard and nearly impossible for me to feel good about myself.
It was like this for a very long time unfortunately. I no longer was doing the things that brought me joy, and I fell into a deep depression. Then, one at a time, I started receiving letters in the mail and emails from random people all over the country about how they supported me, they believed me, and have been inspired by me. If you are any of these people and, if you are watching now, I am so grateful for you.
These 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 have ever felt they didn’t have the power to speak up. You do have that power and you should.
I am here today to express my thoughts about the NFL and its proceedings. 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 is not a big deal. That they don’t care. Tough shit. That’s what I’ve taken from their actions.
So instead, I will let my actions say something different to those same little girls.
No matter how scary, big, or powerful someone may seem, they are just human. And like all humans, we all have the right to have our voices heard. So when I step back and look at things for what they are, I recognize that it’s hurt people who hurt people. I recognize that the people who I decided to speak out against me are just human, and I’m no longer scared of them. I no longer fear that power. Because I understand and I realize I have even more power. I am backed by my community, my family, and my ancestors. And that’s what keeps me going forward.
So if anyone has ever tried to abuse their status and overpower you, remind them that they picked the wrong one to try that with. That’s exactly what I am, the wrong one. And I’ll keep showing my face and keep speaking up for as long as I can. You should be a wrong one too and speak up.