Judge orders Deshaun Watson accuser must reveal her name

Judge orders Deshaun Watson accuser must reveal her name
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A Texas district judge on Friday ruled that one of the women who have accused Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and harassment must reveal her name.

Harris County District Judge Dedra Davis sided with Watson’s defense attorney, Rusty Hardin, who argued that the woman, who initially filed her lawsuit under the name Jane Doe, should be identified to ensure Watson has “a chance at properly defending himself.”

The lawsuit is one of 22 that have been filed against the NFL player, mostly from massage therapists, with accusations of multiple instances of sexual misconduct and assault between this year and last. 

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Out of all of the women who have brought forth accusations, only two have been publicly identified. 

During a Friday Zoom court hearing, Hardin accused lawyer Tony Buzbee, who is representing the 22 women, of using anonymous lawsuits to “kill the reputation of our client.”

“Mr. Buzbee, hiding behind this anonymity, has attempted to try this case in the court of public opinion rather than in a court of law ... Mr. Buzbee is wielding plaintiff’s anonymity as a sword instead of a shield,” Hardin said, according to The Associated Press

Buzbee told Davis that keeping the woman’s name private is in the best interest for the safety of his client, saying that one of the women who decided to publicly come forward this week has already received death threats. 

The AP reported that Buzbee requested during Friday’s hearing that the woman’s name be released to Watson’s legal team, but not to the general public. 

However, Davis sided with Hardin, saying Friday that a “balance of interests is required for both parties,” adding that Buzbee’s team may be getting an unfair advantage in media coverage with the majority of his clients remaining anonymous. 

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Court records indicated that a similar hearing related to at least 12 other cases is scheduled for noon Friday in Harris County’s 113th District Court. 

The first woman who filed a lawsuit against Watson, Ashley Solis, publicly identified herself for the first time Tuesday. 

The Houston massage therapist spoke at a press conference, saying that she decided to come forward because she was “not afraid anymore.” 

"I am a survivor of assault and harassment. Deshaun Watson is my assaulter and my harasser, he assaulted me at my home doing what I love most, massage therapy,” Solis said. 

Lauren Baxley has also identified herself to the public and wrote a letter that was read by lawyer Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey on Tuesday, in which she told Watson, “Every boundary from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading you crossed or attempted to cross,” according to ESPN

The allegations against Watson, all of which are either from licensed massage therapists or women who worked in a spa, include that he touched massage therapists with his penis and kissed them without their consent. 

At least one woman has alleged that the football player forced her to perform oral sex during a December massage. 

Watson has denied the allegations, and his attorney last week released a statement with messages of support from more than a dozen massage therapists who have worked with him.