22 women have accused Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct, and now two of them have spoken their truth about their interactions with the NFL during the investigation into the quarterback. Ashley Solis (the first woman to file suit) and Lauren Baxley spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas about their sessions with NFL investigators Lisa Friel and Jennifer Gaffney, and they were both critical of the way their interviews were handled.
“This woman asked me what I was wearing, which honestly really pissed me off,” Solis told Sports Illustrated in what was her first interview with a media outlet. “She explained that that’s something that she has to ask—which I don’t believe at all. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be wearing that would suggest that I don’t want you to put your penis on my hand. Do I need to wear a turtleneck?”
And here’s Baxley:
“My forensic interview [with HPD] was very respectful and trauma-informed,” Baxley says. “They let me speak uninterrupted, whereas with Lisa Friel and the [other NFL investigator], they would cut me off, they would question things, they would circle back.” Baxley believes that they were “trying to trip me up. They didn’t, but they were really looking for the weaknesses that they thought they could exploit.”
Baxley also described the NFL’s investigators as “patronizing” and “victim-blaming” during her interview. The 33-year-old was the first woman to file a report with Houston police on the matter.
The NFL didn’t make Friel or Gaffney available for any interviews, instead putting out stock lines about how it’s not policy for them to comment on investigations and how they’re “grateful” for the woman who have come forward against Watson.
Solis and Baxley have dealt with a lot of trauma throughout this ordeal, not just from Watson but from all the fallout, including these interviews and vitriolic reaction from fans. It has also been impossible to avoid seeing him in news stories as he reported to training camp, with much of the focus from the NFL’s media arm on trade rumors and not his legal issues.
While Watson is fourth on the quarterback depth chart in Houston, the fact that the NFL is even allowing him at camp at all is a point of contention. Baxley says that while “Watson deserves a fair day in court,” Roger Goodell and the NFL have failed her and the other accusers for allowing him to participate in activities with the team.