(Warning: This column comprises allegations of sexual misconduct.)
It needs to be a bit shock that when Houston-area lawyer Tony Buzbee introduced that 20 of his 24 purchasers had settled civil lawsuits towards Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, he spent more often than not speaking about one of many plaintiffs who hadn’t resolved issues .
Tuesday’s settlements are a step towards Watson ultimately shifting previous this scandal and maybe returning to play NFL video games, but it surely was certainly not the top, and even near it.
Solis and three different girls who allege sexual assault, harassment and inappropriate habits from Watson after he employed them for therapeutic massage work stay. And Solis has at all times had a very sturdy case – and thus an unpleasant and doubtlessly harmful one for Watson.
It was Solis who had a longtime, skilled massage-therapy enterprise. It was Solis who was contacted out of the blue by Watson through Instagram. It’s Solis who describes a creepy run-up to the assembly, alleging Watson inquired if she can be alone earlier than sprawling out bare on the therapeutic massage desk with only a small hand towel and repeatedly directing contact to the groin space after which penis.
It’s Solis who testified she ended the assembly abruptly and cried in entrance of Watson, which Watson acknowledged underneath oath, describing Solis as “teary-eyed.” It’s Solis who acquired an apologetic textual content message from Watson, but additionally one which Solis took as threatening ought to she converse up in regards to the encounter.
“I do know you have got a profession and a repute,” Watson wrote. “And I do know you’ll hate for somebody to mess with yours, similar to I do not need anybody messing with mine.”
It’s Solis on whom Buzbee is hoping the main target stays.
“Ashley Solis is without doubt one of the heroes of this story,” Buzbee wrote in an announcement. “Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the opposite three courageous girls will proceed. I stay up for making an attempt these circumstances sooner or later, in line with different docket obligations and the courtroom’s schedule. “
In different phrases, the very compelling case of Ashley Solis stays and ultimately the courtroom will hear it, in all probability in 2023.
Watson can both work out find out how to settle that one, or danger the NFL both delaying its disciplinary resolution or being influenced out of concern of the headlines and potential particulars that can come if it ever reaches courtroom. The league said Tuesday that the settlements had “no affect on the collectively bargained disciplinary course of,” per spokesman Brian McCarthy.
The Watson scenario will ultimately go to former federal decide Sue L. Robinson to find out if a violation occurred. If Robinson believes there was one, then she would then suggest a punishment, though ultimately it will likely be commissioner Roger Goodell, or a designee, making the ultimate willpower.
That is as a lot a public relations scenario for the league as a participant self-discipline one. As such, the NFL would understandably be involved about levying a punishment that appears mild if additional particulars come out, or an precise trial happens impacting public sentiment.
Or Goodell might put Watson on the commissioner’s exempt checklist, which might place Watson on indefinite paid go away and an eventual ruling might come later.
As this has dragged on and a continued drip, drip, drip of particulars and lawsuits have emerged, the scenario for Watson’s NFL future has grown extra dire. The place a six- or eight-game suspension as soon as appeared almost definitely, nearly nobody is ruling out a whole season now.
Financially, Watson can be solely calmly impacted by the NFL’s punishment. His Cleveland contract is structured to guard as a lot cash as potential. His $ 45 million signing bonus cannot be touched, and his base pay of $ 1,035 million can be on a game-by-game foundation.
Nonetheless, the 26-year-old Watson, after being held out by Houston for the 2021 season, does not need to miss one other total season of his prime. And Cleveland, which has dedicated appreciable financial, draft choose and public relations belongings to accumulate Watson, does not need to lose him for 2022 when it has a roster able to competing for a Tremendous Bowl.
But right here we’re nonetheless.
Sure, 20 of 24 circumstances are gone, the hurdle cleared by Watson. But those that stay are nonetheless doubtlessly problematic, particularly Solis.
“The case towards Deshaun Watson began with one cellphone name, from one courageous and powerful girl,” Buzbee mentioned in an announcement.
It is prone to finish with that very same girl.