Lone Deshaun Watson accuser to not settle lawsuit explains her decision

·3 min read

(Warning: This story contains graphic details of alleged sexual misconduct.)

The only woman not to settle her civil sexual misconduct lawsuit against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson explained her decision in an op-ed for The Daily Beast on Friday.

Lauren Baxley, a former Houston-area massage therapist, wrote that she has rejected all offers from Watson's attorneys because the language of such offers "have not included any sincere acknowledgment of remorse and wrongdoings, nor have they included any promises of rehabilitative treatment."

"Watson still refuses to admit that he harassed and committed indecent assault against me," Baxley continued. "Any settlement offer he has made has been a dismissal of his evil actions, and I know that unless there is an authoritative intervention, he will continue his destructive behavior."

The piece was published early Friday morning, hours after the NFL announced it would increase Watson's suspension from six games to 11 and fine the quarterback a league-record $5 million. Watson maintained his innocence despite the suspension, yet apologized to everyone who was "triggered" by the "situation."

“I’ve always been able to stand on my innocence, and always said I never assaulted or disrespected anyone,” Watson said in a news conference Thursday, “but at the same point I have to continue to push forward with my life and career."

Watson settled with 23 of the 24 women who accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.

Baxley remains steadfast in her decision. She called Watson a "predator with power" in her lawsuit and alleged Watson exposed his penis to her several times and asked her to do things she felt uncomfortable with during their session. The experience left her feeling "trapped, angry and dirty,” according to the lawsuit, and Baxley later wrote in the Daily Beast article that she ended up quitting her job because she didn't feel safe providing therapy for the past two years.

"I am just one of dozens of women whose lives have been eternally harmed by his sexual violence," Baxley wrote. "Even one more victim is outrageous.

"I will say again: All non-consensual sexual acts are a violence, particularly when the predator far outweighs his victims in physical stature and influential power. And inherent and unspoken threats are just as damaging to the psyche as explicit threats. I will never cease my attempts to educate on this point."

Baxley highlighted one of the biggest disappointments from the initial ruling by Judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent arbitrator in the investigation into the allegations. She wrote that Watson's behavior was "egregious" but “nonviolent" before she determined Watson should be suspended for only six games. Yahoo Sports' Shalise Manza Young wrote later that the "non-violent" assertion didn't add up considering the accusations against him.

Commissioner Roger Goodell appealed that decision and ended up handing down the 11-game suspension despite reports the league wanted a year-long suspension.

So while the football side of things is finally over in Watson's case, his legal issues aren't. And at the very least, Baxley wants to ensure Watson doesn't hurt anyone else despite his fame and money.

"I sincerely, with humility in my relative anonymity, ask that those in power over Deshaun Watson make swift and stringent decisions to prevent further acts of harm against women," Baxley wrote. "Please remember the women who have decided they could no longer fight this legal battle after multiple courts, and multiple fandoms, told them their lives didn’t matter.

"Please remember his victims who did not sue, and please take action for survivors everywhere."

Deshaun Watson still has one accuser who won't settle. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
Deshaun Watson still has one accuser who won't settle. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)