Content Warning: This article contains details of an alleged sexual assault.
Tuesday’s edition of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO (10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO, streaming on HBO Max) is going to get a lot of eyes, perhaps especially for the segment featuring two of Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Deshaun Watson accusers, Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes , giving their first national television interviews on the topic (which is still the subject of civil lawsuits from 22 women, including them, plus an NFL investigation; Watson denies wrongdoing). This segment, led by correspondent Soledad O’Brien (seen left above with Solis), has already been preemptively downplayed by Rusty Hardin, one of Watson’s attorneys, even though he didn’t. seen again.
AA also didn’t see the full segment, but we did see a transcript covering many key elements. This includes comments from Solis and Hayes, comments from attorney Tony Buzbee (who represents Watson’s accusers), and comments from attorney Leah Graham (another of Watson’s attorneys). And those comments are certainly noteworthy. A significant part of the discussion comes from Solis and Hayes describing their massage interactions with Watson and the alleged sexual assaults he carried out there, in fairly graphic terms.
ASHLEY SOLIS: While I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and puts his penis on my hand. And I pulled my hand away instantly and started crying. And I told him that I was done. I don’t want to do this anymore.
KYLA HAYES: He wanted me to do a bit of a V-shape in his pelvic area. Go from her belly to her thighs, back to her belly. I kept massaging and did as he asked until his penis repeatedly touched me while I was doing it. He moved his penis back and forth while my hands moved too.
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN: That allowed him, in a way, to put his penis on your hands?
O’BRIEN: And you thought that was intentional?
HAYES: It was intentional.
O’BRIEN: So how did it end?
HAYES: At one point he ejaculated. It was mortifying, embarrassing and disgusting.
[Watson denies any impropriety or sexual contact of any kind with either Ashley Solis or Kyla Hayes]
The segment also includes Solis describing a farewell message from Watson of “I know you have a career to protect”, which she said “sounded like a threat”. This discussion and the discussion cited above are notable for their level of detail. And they certainly don’t present Watson in a good light.
On Watson’s side, Hardin has already spoken about this piece, but it includes the perspective of someone representing Watson. It’s from Graham. Here is part of the conversation between O’Brien and Graham:
O’BRIEN: For Deshaun Watson to be innocent, 22 women would have to lie. Why would the public believe one man against 22 different women?
GRAHAM: It’s 22 women. He’s a lawyer. There is only one lawyer who was willing to take on these cases. And as we know from Ashley Solis’ deposition, Mr. Buzbee was not the first, probably not the second or third attorney she consulted, but he was the only one to take her case. Why? Not because it had any merit, but because he would use these cases to increase his social media following and frankly to get on shows like this.
O’BRIEN: Deshaun Watson insisted that in these massages he was looking for nothing but professional services, but we know he had sex with three women, right? Oral sex with two, vaginal sex with another. So how do you explain that you unwittingly end up having sex with people who give you professional massages?
GRAHAM: Well, every massage, I’ll tell you, he went there, for the sole purpose of a professional massage, and only the three instances where sexual behavior occurred – consensual sexual activity – occurred. products after the end of the massage session. And Mr. Watson testified and insists that this sexual activity was initiated by the plaintiff in each case.
real sports has made a lot of important pieces over its 300+ episodes, but this one stands out perhaps for its potential impact. This is especially true given that the civil litigation against Watson and the NFL’s investigation into his actions are ongoing, with a decision from the NFL’s investigation likely to come this summer, and the civil trial likely to take place in next July or March if the case is not settled by then.
The Browns bet big on Watson, trading three first-round picks for him and signing him to a fully guaranteed deal worth $230 million over five years. They also claimed to have done a “full assessment” on Watson, although Buzbee said they never contacted him or his clients. So any NFL discipline for Watson could significantly affect their season and their future. And given that the NFL’s decision will likely have a lot to do with public perception of the Watson case, this real sports play and how the public reacts to it may end up being important to the league’s eventual decision.
[Excerpts and photo supplied by HBO]