One of the most significant escalations in the Deshaun Watson litigation saga, which right now stands at 22 civil lawsuits against the Texans' quarterback for varying degrees of alleged sexual misconduct and two similar criminal complaints, took place on Tuesday this past week when Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the 22 plaintiffs, presented Ashley Solis at a press conference at his offices.
Solis gave an emotional five minute statement, in which she described, in great detail, the psychological torment she has experienced since Deshaun Watson allegedly attempted to touch her hand with his genitals during a massage session on March 30, 2020. Solis was the first plaintiff to file suit against Watson, and since then 21 more women have done the same, including Lauren Baxley, the other now NAMED plaintiff (as opposed to having her identity concealed behind the "Jane Doe" moniker), whose scathing open letter to Watson was read at the conference by one of Buzbee's associates.
Solis' statement and Baxley's letters were tough developments for Watson, as it finally put a human element on the sea of lawsuit paperwork. However, Rusty Hardin, Watson's defense attorney, might argue that these women revealing their names represented actual progress, as Hardin has made no secret about the anonymity of these 22 plaintiffs being an unfair obstacle to Hardin mounting a defense for Watson.
On Thursday, Hardin took the next step to removing the veil of anonymity on the other 20 plaintiffs, as he filed for a special exception to reveal the identities of the nearly two dozen women suing Watson. In a statement, Hardin said the following:
"We have said this before and we want to say it again: Deshaun did not force, coerce or intimidate anyone to do anything against their will. When we asked Mr. Buzbee to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion. Today we filed that motion. As discussed in our filing, Mr. Buzbee’s use of anonymous lawsuits violates Texas law and the basic concept of fairness. It is clear that, for Mr. Buzbee, this case has never been about seeking justice in a courtroom, but destroying Deshaun’s reputation to enhance his own public profile and enrich himself. While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword. While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court."
The full motion is below:
Hardin's team has requested an emergency hearing to get this approval. This hearing will take place on Friday morning at 7:40 a.m. on ZOOM, and will be followed by an 11 a.m. hearing for consolidation:
#Breaking— Vanessa Richardson (@SportsVanessa) April 8, 2021
Judge Dedra Davis (270th Civil District Court) has scheduled a Zoom hearing at 7:40am TOMORROW on Rusty Hardin's emergency request to disclose the names of the 22 Jane Doe plaintiffs in the Deshaun Watson litigation.
At 11am there will be a hearing set by Judge Rabeea Collier in the 113th Civil District Court consolidating the lawsuits filed in the 127th, 129th, & 151st Civil District Courts.— Vanessa Richardson (@SportsVanessa) April 8, 2021
These latest developments send two signals. First, the colossal clash of the titans that we've been expecting in "Buzbee versus Hardin" is just now beginning to heat up. Every statement that Hardin puts out seems to be directed right at Buzbee's tactics and methods. If these two are together in the courtroom on Friday, it should be a tremendous appetizer to what could be must-see trial footage.
Second, this request would appear to indicate that Hardin, and in turn Watson, are ready to take on all 22 of these plaintiffs in a battle over what they feel is the real truth. If not, it's a fascinating bit of posturing to, perhaps, mitigate the financial damage of numerous settlements.
Overall, the message is clear — buckle up, we are just getting started.
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