Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the dozens of women that have accused Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and misconduct, denounced the six-game suspension levied onto the Cleveland Browns quarterback in a press conference on Thursday.
“Six games isn’t even a slap on the wrist,” Buzbee said, “It’s a kiss on the cheek.”
Retired federal Judge Sue L. Robinson administered the six-game ban Monday after listening to the four civil lawsuit cases filed against Watson that were presented by the NFL at his hearing.
Though 24 women filed cases against the 26-year-old signal-caller – alleging he made unwanted sexual advances during massage appointments – the league only interviewed 10 of the initial 22 accusers. Of those, only four were referenced in the actual hearing.
“I have no explanation why the NFL only spoke to 10 of my clients and only presented four of those 10,” Buzbee said. “It really makes you want to scratch your head and wonder what the hell is going on.”
The NFL rejected Watson’s administered six-game suspension and instead appealed for an indefinite ban that would last at least one year. On Thursday, it was announced NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appointed former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal.
“We are here today with a message to the NFL. That message is central and hopefully clear. Every victim of sexual assault is watching Roger Goodell and the NFL right now,” Buzbee said. “And this idea that Mr. Goodell is going to hand it off to someone else independent, we don’t buy it. Mr. Goodell, what will you do? It’s never too late to do the right thing. That’s what these women and those watching are expecting.”
As for his clients, Buzbee claims they have been failed by the “bungled” and “flawed process.”
“I feel like we’re invisible,” one accuser said, while another declared the minimal suspension “made me feel defeated,” according to Buzbee.
Ashley Solis, the first Watson accuser to go public, appeared alongside Buzbee on Thursday, saying she has received death threats and has been approached by “angry” people in public. She heavily criticized Watson’s ban.
“What the actions of the NFL state to little girls who have suffered at the hands of someone perceived to have power is that it’s not a big deal,” Solis said. “That they don’t care. Tough s—. That’s what I’ve taken from their actions.”
Buzbee concluded that 23 of the 24 suits have been settled and will soon be dismissed. He additionally asserted that he does not plan to press further charges against the Houston Texans for facilitating Watson’s actions.