A new lawsuit alleging sexual assault and harassment against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was filed Wednesday, bringing the amount of lawsuits against Watson back up to 22 after one plaintiff had previously dropped her case.
Erica Chapman, a freelance makeup artist who is identified by name in her suit, alleges she was asked for a massage by Watson in September and November of 2020 despite Chapman making it clear she was not a licensed massage therapist. During a massage session, Chapman alleges Watson assaulted and harassed her by exposing himself, touching her with his genitals and groping her.
"The Buzbee Law Firm filed its 23rd case against Deshaun Watson for allegations of assault and harassment," a Wednesday statement issued by Tony Buzbee, who is representing all of the plaintiffs who have filed suits against Watson, and the Buzbee Law Firm read. "The woman in this newest case did not file as a 'Jane Doe.' Instead, she chose to name herself. The cases are now consolidated, without an official order, in one court. All women have voluntarily identified themselves. These brave women now feel emboldened and will not be intimidated. As said before many times, we are proud to represent these women to seek justice on their behalf and stand up for survivors everywhere. Time's up."
One of the now-23 women to have filed a civil lawsuit alleging sexual assault and misconduct against Watson dropped her suit prior to Chapman's filing.
"In light of privacy and security concerns, Plaintiff has decided not to pursue her case, for now," Buzbee, wrote in a notice of nonsuit submitted Tuesday night. "Plaintiff reserves the right to refile this case once such concerns are addressed."
The plaintiff alleged in her original petition filed March 22 that Watson assaulted and harassed her by exposing himself and touching her with his genitals during a massage appointment in Houston in July 2020.
As of Wednesday morning, 20 of the initial 21 civil lawsuits against Watson had been amended to include the names of the plaintiffs. All of the suits were initially filed on behalf of "Jane Doe."
A hearing was scheduled Wednesday for a special exception to the last plaintiff's original petition, but was canceled and rescheduled for Thursday.
Judges ruled Friday that 13 plaintiffs would have to reveal their names and a 14th was agreed upon. Prior to that, only two women had been publicly identified. Ashley Solis spoke out and Lauren Baxley had a letter she had written read aloud by a lawyer from Buzbee's firm, which represents all of the plaintiffs to file claims against Watson, during an April 6 news conference.
"We previously attempted to make available to defense counsel the names of the plaintiffs suing Deshaun Watson, and intended to do so in due course," Buzbee said in a statement Tuesday night. "We were concerned about the safety of these plaintiffs, and asked the Watson team to agree to a protective order where the identities could be used in litigation, but not broadcast to the world. The Watson team refused our offer of compromise, and instead insisted that we amend our petitions to name these women. It appears the Watson team thinks that if these courageous women are forced to identify themselves, they would slink away and not pursue this matter. Watson and his counsel badly miscalculated. Due to the bravery of Ashley Solis to come forward publicly, and despite the death threats she has experienced, these women are now emboldened.
"Today we are amending our petitions to disclose the names of the victims, even those not currently subject to any court order."
The Houston Police Department announced in a statement April 2 it had opened an investigation following a complaint being issued against Watson.
The NFL is currently investigating the allegations against Watson.