Deshaun Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin has responded after a woman went public for the first time to speak out against Watson in front of the media.
On Tuesday afternoon, in a press conference set up by Texas lawyer Tony Buzbee, massage therapist Ashley Solis came forward to talk about the abuse she suffered during a session with Watson.
Ashley Solis is the first woman to come forward publicly to accuse Deshaun Watson of sexual assault'
"I am survivor of assault and harassment, Deshaun Watson is my assaulter and my harasser, he assaulted me at my home doing what I love most, massage therapy" pic.twitter.com/oA8luucYNk
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 6, 2021
Solis concluded her press conference by saying she didn’t come forward “for money” but to make sure Watson didn’t assault other women.
“People say that I’m doing this just for money,” “That is false. I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman.”
Watson’s lawyer responded to Solis’ statement that she’s not in it for the money by claiming that her attorney, Tony Buzbee, had asked for $100k in “hush money” to quietly settle the case before filing the sexual assault lawsuit.
Deshaun Watson's attorney Rusty Hardin has released a statement regarding today's press conference, saying in part that Ashley Solis (original plaintiff) and Tony Buzbee sought $100,000 in hush money to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit. pic.twitter.com/C1YESdhEXL
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 6, 2021
At a press conference today, attorney Anthony Buzbee introduced the first plaintiff to the media. She identified herself as Ashley Solis. In her remarks, Ms. Solis stated: “People say that I’m doing this just for money. That is false.”
Mr. Buzbee himself repeatedly claimed that the litigation he filed on behalf of other Jane Does “isn’t about money.” At his initial press conference on March 19 announcing the first wave of lawsuits, Mr. Buzbee stated: “The case ain’t about money. And it’s certainly ain’t about seeking publicity or fame. I personally don’t need it. And these women don’t want it. This case is about female empowerment.”
In fact, according to the documentation below, Mr. Buzbee sought $100,000 in hush money on behalf of Ms. Solis to quietly settle the allegations the month before he filed the first lawsuit.
“My client’s demand is $100,000,” Buzbee associate Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey wrote in a February 9, 2021 email on behalf of Ms. Solis. Ms. Brandfield-Harvey followed up with a clarification of the $100,000 demand later that same day. “This offer remains open until Friday of this week.” Mr. Buzbee is copied on all of the emails.
The Watson representative who engaged in the discussions with Mr. Buzbee and his firm is Scott Gaffield, the General Counsel at the Athletes First agency of Laguna Beach.
On February 19, Mr. Gaffield responded to Mr. Buzbee and Ms. Brandfield-Harvey by inquiring about “the rationale behind the $100k demand” given that “we don’t believe that the alleged facts show that Deshaun did anything wrong…”
Mr. Buzbee responded that same morning: “We made a legit demand. You rejected it. We won’t be making another or bid against ourselves.” He then added: “This is Houston, Texas. Perhaps you should find him a lawyer here so you can apprise both you and your client of the landscape here and who you are dealing with.”
It is worth noting that Ms. Solis has provided a statement with the Houston police department in their recently opened criminal investigation against Watson.