Editor’s note: This story contains graphic descriptions of alleged sexual assault.
“It’s just a big screw you," says Ashley Soliz of the Cleveland Browns record-breaking acquisition of DeShaun Watson this offseason during the latest episode of HBOMax’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. "That’s what it feels like.”
Soliz, the first of 22 women to file a lawsuit accusing Cleveland Browns quarterback Watson of sexual assault, is one of two women who appear in the show, which aired Tuesday night. Watson signed a $230 million guaranteed contract this spring. The NFL is reportedly close to concluding its more-than-a-year-long investigation into Watson, and a suspension is a possibility.
Watson contacted a lot of women and contacted them directly, himself. Messaging them on Instagram, Watson received multiple massages a week and more than 100 massages per year during his time in Houston. Many of the women, such as Kyla Hayes, who had just launched her business on Instagram, ran new or up-and-coming businesses.
Watsons intentions were immediately clear, according to his accusers. With similar details such as refusing to wear towels and requesting groin massages, the accusers' stories all follow a similar pattern. That said, he was more brazen with some of the women, including immediately exposing himself, displaying erections, requesting anal penetration, touching the massage therapists with his penis and even ejaculating on the women as they massaged him.
The women claim to have felt intimidated. According to Soliz, Watson said: "You have a career. You don't want anyone messing with it, just like I don't want anyone messing with mine." "That's when I got really scared," she says.
Watson admits engaging in a range of sexual activity with three massage therapists. Watson's lawyers claim all three incidents were consensual, initiated by the women and took place after sessions were complete.
Watson denies any non-consensual sexual activity but did not speak to HBO. His lawyers only responded via video chat in the "11th hour" to deny the allegations, according to the program. The Browns also did not comment.
So what's Watson's defense? Watson's attorney claims the accusations are a publicity stunt for the accusers' lawyer, as evidenced by a single lawyer representing all 22 accusers and at least one other lawyer refusing to take Soliz's case originally. Most importantly, his lawyers point to the fact that Watson was cleared of criminal charges by a grand jury.
Though the Browns claimed to have conducted their own investigation, the organization did not attempt to contact any of the accusers, according to the HBO series. Not a single one.