Warning: This story contains details of alleged sexual abuse.
A 23rd woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson accusing him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions. The woman, Nia Smith, filed in Houston on Tuesday.
Smith said in the lawsuit that she saw Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes, who have accused Watson of sexual misconduct, interviewed by Soledad O’Brien for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel a week earlier. Smith “was impressed by the courage of the victims who were willing to come forward and speak up, and was extremely dissatisfied with the ill-treatment and re-victimization of the plaintiffs by Watson and his legal team.”
“But it was Watson himself, who claimed that even now he had no regrets and had done nothing wrong, that solidified her resolve,” Smith’s lawsuit continues. “She is bringing this case to seek minimum compensation but to obtain a judicial finding that Watson’s conduct was wrong.”
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Smith is being represented by attorney Tony Buzbee, who is also representing the 22 other women alleging Watson.
“More cases could come. The Watson defense team slandered these women and this cause. Shame on you. We look forward to hearing this case in court,” Buzbee said in a statement to Cleveland.com.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement to Pro Football Talk that Watson “vehemently denies the allegations, as he has since.” [Smith] first discussed it with members of our firm in March of last year.”
“She repeated the allegations on social media in August and he denied them at the time,” Hardin said. “The only thing new about their claims is the embellishment, which makes them more extreme than previous versions. Deshaun’s denial remains the same.”
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Smith spoke publicly about the claims on the YouTube show Unwine with Tasha K in July 2021.
In her most recent indictment, Smith says there were three encounters between her and Watson, each of which got progressively worse.
She claims that during the third massage, Watson “repeatedly asked” to have sex with her after he exposed himself and touched her between her legs. She also claims she didn’t want to give him a third massage after the first two, but massage spa owner Dionne Louis was proud to have Watson as a customer and wanted to make him happy. Smith claimed Louis was paid at least $5,000, with a Cash App receipt and text messages submitted as exhibits.
Louis denied the allegations to USA Today, calling them “ridiculous.” Louis’ attorney did not comment to USA Today.
Smith further alleges that shortly after news of the Watson trial broke, Watson’s legal team invited her to dinner and attempted to ascertain from her whether she had filed a civil suit against Watson. Smith saw this as an attempt to “intimidate” her. Hardin denied that “any coercion or intimidation was involved”.
The NFL has not yet announced any disciplinary action against Watson as it continues to investigate the allegations. Commissioner Roger Goodell said on May 24 the league was “near the end of the investigation.” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Watson will not be prosecuted. Two Texas grand juries voted not to indict him.