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Nike suspends Deshaun Watson’s endorsement deal over sexual misconduct claims against him

Nike suspends Deshaun Watson’s endorsement deal over sexual misconduct claims against him

Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations from 22 women.

‘We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson,’ read Nike’s statement provided to DailyMail.com. ‘We will continue to closely maestro the situation.’

Watson signed an endorsement deal with Nike in 2017 for an undisclosed amount. 

A Nike spokesman did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s question about the specifics of Watson’s suspension, like whether the company will pull ads featuring the 25-year-old quarterback or withhold his pay.

Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations from 22 women

Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations from 22 women

In separate lawsuits filed in Texas last month, Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by 22 unidentified women, most of whom work as licensed massage therapists. 

On Tuesday, two of the women, Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley, identified themselves publicly for the first time.

The plaintiffs are suing for civil assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, accusing Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis, and, in some cases, ejaculating on them. Two of the plaintiffs are also suing for sexual assault, claiming Watson forced them to perform verbal sex on him.

Houston police and the NFL are both conducting investigations into the accusations.

Watson, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.  

In separate lawsuits filed in Texas last month, Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by 22 unidentified women, mostly licensed massage therapists. On Tuesday, two of the women, Ashley Solis (pictured) and Lauren Baxley, identified themselves publicly for the first time

In separate lawsuits filed in Texas last month, Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by 22 unidentified women, mostly licensed massage therapists. On Tuesday, two of the women, Ashley Solis (pictured) and Lauren Baxley, identified themselves publicly for the first time

All 22 of the women are represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who held a press conference on Tuesday allowing Solis to speak in front of the media about her experience Watson. 

‘My name is Ashley Solis,’ the licensed massage therapist said at an emotional press conference alongside her attorney, Tony Buzbee. ‘Remember that name. … I was afraid. I’m not afraid anymore. 

‘I am survivor of assault and harassment,’ she continued. ‘Deshaun Watson is my assaulter and my harasser; he assaulted me at my home doing what I love most, massage therapy.’  

Solis explained at the press conference in Houston on Tuesday that she is now struggling to continue working as a massage therapist as a result of her encounter with Watson in March of 2020.  

‘I can no longer practice the profession that I love the most without shaking during the session,’ she said. ‘My hands shake whenever I place them on a client and have to cut the session short. If only he knew how heartbreaking that is to me. 

‘I got into massage therapy to heal people — to heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that. He took that away from me, he tainted a profession in which I take enormous pride. 

‘Flashes of Watson’s face rush to me in the moment. I think of his penis touching me, which sends me into a tailspin. I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and depression. I am in counseling as a result of Deshaun Watson’s actions. I hope he knows how much pain he’s inflicted on me emotionally and physically. I hope he knows how much pain he’s inflicted on these other survivors.’ 

According to Solis’s filing, which was obtained by DailyMail.com, Watson exposed himself during his massage in March of 2020 before adjusting his position to force his erect penis into her hand. 

‘Plaintiff abruptly ended the massage and asked Watson to leave her house,’ read the filing. 

Solis said she was in tears as Watson left. On his way out, she said, Watson told her: ‘I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just as I don’t want anyone messing with mine.’

‘I replay the incident over and over in my head as if I’m trying to wake up for some horrible nightmare, only that nightmare is verdadero,’ she said Tuesday. 

Later, Solis said, Watson reached out via text message to apologize for the incident, but she did not respond. Buzbee has since shared that alleged text message from Watson to Solis on social media.

‘Sorry about you feeling uncomfortable,’ read the text message. ‘Never were the intensions. Lmk if you want to work in the future. My apologies.’     

Watson issued a statement after Solis filed her lawsuit anonymously on March 16, saying he has never disrespected any woman. Since then, 21 other women have filed lawsuits against him in Harris County (Texas). 

His attorney, Rusty Hardin, has since shared statements from 18 other female massage therapists who say that Watson acted appropriately during their private sessions. Hardin has also accused the 22 plaintiffs of being motivated by financial gain.

Solis responded to that accusation on Tuesday.  

‘People say I’m doing this just for money,’ Solis said. ‘That is false. I come forward now in hopes Deshaun Watson does not hurt another woman.

‘We were all deceived into thinking Deshaun Watson was a good guy, and unfortunately we know that good guys can do terrible things,’ she added. 

Hardin released another statement himself on Tuesday, reiterating a previous claim that Solis originally sought a $100,000 settlement from his client.    

Another accuser was also identified by Buzbee on Tuesday.

That plaintiff, Lauren Baxley, was not present at the press conference, but her letter to Watson was read for the media on Tuesday. 

‘Every boundary, from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading, you crossed or attempted to cross,’ Baxley wrote of her alleged encounter with Watson.  

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