22 women have come forward to accuse Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct, and now two of the women have spoken with the NFL regarding the matter are blasting the league for how they’re conducting their interviews.
Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley went on the record and spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas about their interviews with NFL investigators Lisa Friel and Jennifer Gaffney.
We spoke to Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley, two LMTs suing Deshaun Watson. They shared more details of their interactions with Watson, as well as their meeting with NFL investigators, which Baxley perceived as “victim-blaming”: https://t.co/SHe8YY5LBB
— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) August 13, 2021
Solis told SI that she felt the NFL investigators asked her inappropriate questions when they inquired about what she was wearing when she was giving Watson a massage.
“This woman asked me what I was wearing, which honestly really pissed me off,” “She explained that that’s something that she has to ask—which I don’t believe at all. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be wearing that would suggest that I don’t want you to put your penis on my hand. Do I need to wear a turtleneck?”
Baxter went on to say that she felt the NFL investigators were “patronizing” and “victin-blaming” during her interview with them.
She perceived the overall tone of the league’s investigators as “patronizing” and “victim-blaming,” as she says they also questioned her response to Watson’s behavior, including why she froze and did not end the session. (Freezing, along with fight or flight, is a common physiological response to danger.)
Baxley was the first of the plaintiffs to file a report with Houston police, on April 2, and says she was disappointed in the NFL’s handling compared with the adult sex crimes unit of Houston PD’s special victims division.
“My forensic interview [with HPD] was very respectful and trauma-informed,” Baxley says. “They let me speak uninterrupted, whereas with Lisa Friel and the [other NFL investigator], they would cut me off, they would question things, they would circle back.” Baxley believes that they were “trying to trip me up. They didn’t, but they were really looking for the weaknesses that they thought they could exploit.”
The NFL released a brief statement via e-mail to SI in response about the claims made by Solis and Baxter.
“We are grateful to the women who came forward to share their experiences, and we recognize how difficult talking about these issues may be as we try to understand the facts of the matter.”
The NFL has already interviewed 10 of Watson’s sexual assault accusers but commissioner Roger Goodell has not decided to put the Texans’ QB on the commissoner’s exempt list.