(Warning: This column contains allegations of sexual abuse.)
It should come as no surprise that when Houston District Attorney Tony Buzbee announced that 20 of his 24 clients had settled a civil lawsuit against Cleveland Browns defender Deshaun Watson, he spent most of his time talking to one plaintiff who had not settled the case. .
Tuesday’s agreements are a step towards Watson finally escaping the scandal and possibly returning to play NFL games, but it was by no means the end or even close.
Solis and three other women who allege Watson’s sexual assault, harassment and inappropriate behavior after he hired them for a massage remain. And Solis has always been a particularly strong case – and therefore ugly and potentially dangerous for Watson.
It was Solis who had a well-established professional massage therapy business. Watson contacted Solis immediately via Instagram. It is Solis who describes the horrific time before the meeting, claiming that Watson was investigating whether he would be alone before spreading a naked massage on a naked massage table and repeatedly making contact with the groin and then the penis.
It was Solis who admitted that he ended the meeting abruptly and cried in front of Watson, which Watson admitted under oath, describing Solis as “teary-eyed.” It was Solis who received an apologetic text message from Watson, but also a message that Solis considered threatening if he had to talk about the meeting.
“I know you have a career and a reputation,” Watson wrote. “And I know that you will hate anyone messing with yours, just as I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”
This is Solis, for whom Buzbee hopes to stay focused.
“Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story,” Buzbee wrote in a statement. “Her case has not been resolved, so the story of her and the other three brave women continues. I look forward to hearing these cases in a timely manner, in line with other commitments and the court’s timetable.
In other words, the very serious case of Ashley Solis will remain and will eventually be heard by the court in 2023.
Watson could figure out how to deal with this, or risk the NFL delaying a disciplinary decision or being feared for headlines and possible details that will come when it ever reaches the court. The league said on Tuesday that the agreements did not affect the disciplinary process of collective bargaining, spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
Watson’s situation will eventually go to former federal judge Sue L. Robinson to determine if the violation occurred. If Robinson believes it existed, he then suggests imposing a penalty, although it is ultimately up to Commissioner Roger Goodell or the Commissioner-designate to make the final decision.
This is too much of a public relations situation as well as a discipline for the players. As such, the NFL would understandably be concerned about the imposition of a penalty that would seem easy if further details come to light or if there is an actual trial that affects the public mind.
Or Goodell could put Watson’s commissioner on the vacated list, which would put Watson on paid leave indefinitely, and the final decision could come later.
As it has dragged on and there has been a constant dripping, dripping, number of details and lawsuits, the situation has become more dire for the future of the Watson NFL. When the six-game or eight-game ban once seemed the most likely, almost no one now rules out an entire season.
Watson would be lightly affected by an NFL penalty. The purpose of his Cleveland agreement is to protect as much money as possible. His $ 45 million signing bonus can’t be touched, and his $ 1.035 million base salary would be game-based.
Still, 26-year-old Watson doesn’t want to miss another full season after Houston withstood the 2021 season. And Cleveland, who has invested significant financial, drafting and public relations assets in acquiring Watson, doesn’t want to lose him by 2022 if he has a list that can compete on behalf of the Super Bowl.
Yet we are still here.
Yes, 20 out of 24 cases are missing, Watson removed the barrier. But the rest are still potentially problematic, especially in Sol.
“The lawsuit against Deshaun Watson began with a phone call from a brave and strong woman,” Buzbee said in a statement.
It will probably end with the same woman.
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