The lone holdout among Deshaun Watson’s 24 sexual misconduct accusers says he will “continue his destructive behavior” unless there is an authoritative intervention against him.
Watson, 26, was suspended Thursday for 11 games and fined $5 million after the NFL and NFL Players Association reached a settlement in the sexual misconduct case. Watson was accused by more than two dozen women of inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.
The Cleveland Browns quarterback must commit to mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and counseling as part of his sentence. But as the NFL faced a chorus of criticism for a “soft” approach, Watson’s last remaining plaintiff has spoken out.
Lauren Baxley is a licensed massage therapist who worked with athletes and owned her own business. She now says she has had to quit “the only career I’ve ever known” because she can’t feel safe since she alleged Watson harassed and indecently assaulted her.
In a statement issued under the title “Taking A Stand” on the Daily Beast, Baxley warned that Watson would continue his “destructive behavior” if he is not properly punished. She also called his actions “evil” and says he does not “acknowledge remorse and wrongdoing”.
“I have rejected all settlement offers, in part because they have not included any sincere acknowledgment of remorse and wrongdoing, nor have they included any promises of rehabilitative treatment,” Baxley wrote.
Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games and fined $5 million for sexual misconduct allegations
Lauren Baxley, who has been identified by name but not pictured publicly since suing Watson last year, was among the accusers who filed criminal complaints against him in Harris County, Texas. These women appeared in a Houston court on March 11 (pictured), when it was revealed that a grand jury would not indict Watson on indecent assault charges
“Watson still refuses to admit that he harassed and indecently assaulted me. Every settlement offer he has made has been a repudiation of his evil actions and I know that unless there is an authoritative intervention, he will continue his destructive behavior.
“Because Watson repeatedly assaulted women, the institutions and individuals who currently maintain and employ him must also be held accountable. I am just one of dozens of women whose lives have been forever damaged by his sexual violence. Even one more victim is outrageous.’
Speaking Thursday night, Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the 24 women who sued Watson, was outraged by the NFL’s settlement.
During a news conference earlier this month, Buzbee called on NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to “do the right thing.” After Watson was suspended six games by a retired federal judge who had been appointed by the league and the players’ union to serve as an independent disciplinary official, the NFL appealed the decision and indicated it would push for an indefinite suspension.
“By deciding this case the way he has, Roger Goodell has proven one of two things: either his recent rhetoric was completely callous, or his bark is much worse than his bite,” Buzbee said in a statement released Thursday.
Watson greets Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts at a joint practice Thursday
“The message today to all victims is clear, if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by a powerful person, shut up and walk away.”
Watson was still with the Houston Texans when the 24 women filed lawsuits alleging he exposed himself, touched them with their genitals or kissed them against their will during massage appointments. One woman alleged that Watson forced her to perform oral sex.
Watson has long denied any wrongdoing, and was traded to the Browns in March. This week he spoke about “moving on with my career and my life”.
The president of the National Organization for Women, Christian Nunez, said his sentence was nowhere near enough.
“The $5 million represents 2.1739% of Watson’s new $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns,” Nunes told TMZ, “which was negotiated after more than two dozen women had accused the star athlete of sexual misconduct.”
“Now, with the exception of one last civil case, he can look at it and say it’s closed for this case, at least the trial,” said David Ring, a California-based attorney not connected to the case. lawsuits and who has represented victims of sexual abuse.
Watson was questioned about his punishment on Thursday but spoke of “moving on”
“As far as the court of public opinion and how the fans react to him, that’s something he’s still going to deal with, I think, for a while.”
Buzbee has said he will continue to discuss the remaining lawsuit with Watson’s legal team.
“I think these victims are looking at it as a mixed bag,” Ring said. “They didn’t get everything they wanted, and unfortunately in our justice system, both criminal and civil, it’s hard to come away with a complete victory.”
Baxley, who has been identified by name but not pictured publicly since suing Watson last year, vows she will never stop educating herself about unconscionable sexual acts.
“I sincerely pray, humbly in my relative anonymity, that those in authority over Deshaun Watson take swift and stern action to prevent further acts of harm against women,” she said in her Daily Beast statement.
“Please remember the women who decided they could no longer fight this legal battle after multiple courts and multiple fandoms told them their lives didn’t matter.”
For months, the Browns have operated under the assumption that Watson would be out for at least part of the season. Veteran Jacoby Brissett (pictured) is in place to start while Watson is out