I’m exhausted trying to think of ways to drive home the severity of the allegations against Deshaun Watson. The depth of his indiscretions and sheer volume of his accusers is hard to put into words. It’s one of those things that you need to see visually to contextualize just how many massage therapists (22 in total) he may have sexually assaulted.
Merely listing all the names of the accusers would be a far more somber iteration of the Browns’ jersey full of failed quarterbacks. While I’d love for someone to repurpose that idea for these accusers and walk around FirstEnergy Stadium during gameday as a “fuck you” to Watson and the Browns organziation for signing him, nothing about this situation is comical.
The reason I’m writing about Watson yet again isn’t to test my knowledge of synonyms for “dirtbag” but rather because two accusers, Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes, spoke on HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel about their “massage therapy” sessions with Watson during an episode that aired Tuesday.
Some notable accusations that his lawyers of course deny include Watson eschewing a normal towel for essentially a hand towel, telling Solis “you don’t have to worry about the towel,” and then requesting her to work on his abdomen before directing her to go lower, saying “don’t be scared, you can go in there.”
And this is how the massage ended, according to Solis.
“As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand, and I pulled my hand away instantly, and I started crying and I told him that I’m done,’’ she said. “I don’t want to do this anymore.’’
After the massage/alleged sex assault ended, Solis said she felt intimidated because Watson mentioned that both of them have “a career to protect.”
As for Hayes, she said Watson’s introductory news conference, where he said he never disrespected or assaulted a woman, was triggering.
“It’s kind of a constant reminder of what happened. And for him to say he’s never did anything to a woman, it’s a bold-faced lie.”
Hayes also detailed her encounter with Watson, describing a similar situation to that of Solis’ experience.
She said he “wanted me to kinda make a V motion in his pelvic area. So go across his stomach to his thighs, back to his stomach. I just kept massaging and did what he asked until his penis kept touching me repeatedly as I did it. He was moving his penis back and forth as my hands moved as well.’’
She also said he intentionally caused his penis to touch her hands, and that “at some point, he did ejaculate,” which she described as “mortifying and embarrassing and disgusting.”
While Hayes did remain in contact with Watson after the incident, she did so out of fear because she “wasn’t sure what [Watson] was capable of.” The fact that Hayes felt she had to entertain Watson’s communications is demoralizing, maddening, and terrifying.
Of course Watson declined to appear, instead sending a lawyer to do his bidding. Attorney Leah Graham played all the hits, including, “What evidence is there of any guilt?” Tony Buzbee, who represents all 22 women in the case, only took the cases to “increase his social media following and quite frankly to get on shows like this one.” Deshuan went into every encounter “intending just for a professional massage,” and in “instances where sexual conduct occurred — consensual sexual activity — it occurred after the massage session had ended.” And, finally, Watson “has no regrets because he did nothing wrong.”
Meanwhile, the QB is at Cleveland OTAs trying to get a handle on the new offense. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he doesn’t have a timeline for any punishment, but the investigation is nearing an end, and independent discipline officer Sue L. Robinson will decide Watson’s fate under terms of the personal conduct policy.
This Faustian bargain that the Browns made for Watson — six draft picks, including three first rounders, in exchange for Watson and sixth round pick — is only exacerbated by the fully guaranteed $230 million contract that the organization gave him once he arrived.
Buzbee and both accusers who appeared on Real Sports were appalled by Cleveland’s willingness to overlook pending litigation, and I’d love to say that’s the feeling of the general public, too, but I’m not that naive.
The franchise that epitomizes laughably bad quarterbacks finally has a superstar at the position. However, if I’m a Browns fan who’s been pining since Bernie Kosar for an on-field player like Watson, I wouldn’t want it to come like this.
The cost of winning shouldn’t be your soul, nor forever altering lives of 22 women who were just trying to do their job.