The San Antonio Spurs surprisingly waived young guard Josh Primo in October, and after reports indicated that it was due to alleged incidents of indecent exposure with a team employee, that former employee finally spoke out on Thursday at a press conference in Houston. The alleged victim, clinical sports psychologist Dr. Hillary Cauthen, addressed the media with attorney Tony Buzbee and laid out a timeline of the events:
- The first incident took place in late December of 2021, when Primo allegedly exposed his penis in one of their first sessions together. This was immediately brought to the attention of the team's general manager, Brian Wright. After multiple postponements, Cauthen was able to get a meeting with him. Cauthen insisted that head coach Gregg Popovich be made aware of the situation, and was informed in June that he was, but Buzbee acknowledged that they did not know for sure whether or not that was true.
- The Spurs continued to call on Cauthen to have sessions with Primo and other players. Primo's alleged conduct continued and escalated from there. Cauthen was eventually told to work from home.
- At one point, the Spurs asked Cauthen to participate in "a facilitated discussion" with Primo to attempt to figure out what was compelling him to expose himself to her.
- Cauthen was not asked to travel with the team to Las Vegas for Summer League even though she typically would have. Eventually, she was told that the team "had lost trust in her." Her contract was not renewed in August. On Oct. 10, mere weeks before he was waived, the Spurs picked up Primo's option for the 2023-24 season.
- Primo is alleged to have been involved in incidents in Las Vegas at Summer League and earlier this season in Minnesota, the latter of which seemingly led to his release.
On Thursday, Cauthen filed a suit against Primo and the Spurs and will file a criminal complaint for indecent exposure. In total, she alleges that Primo exposed himself to her nine times. On Friday, The Athletic reported that the Bexar County Sheriff's Office is launching a criminal investigation into Primo after getting into contact with Cauthen.
Primo's attorney, William J. Briggs, issued a lengthy statement Thursday as a rebuttal to Cauthen's press conference.
"Josh Primo is a 19-year-old NBA player who has suffered a lifetime of trauma and challenges," the statement reads. "He is now being victimized by his former team appointed sports psychologist, who is playing to ugly stereotypes and racially charged fears for her own financial benefit.
"In an act of betrayal against her young client, Dr. Cauthen, who is 40 years old, falsely claims Josh Primo exposed himself to her during the course of her numerous therapy sessions. Dr. Cauthen's allegations are either a complete fabrication, a gross embellishment or utter fantasy. Josh Primo never intentionally exposed himself to her or anyone else and was not even aware that his private parts were visible outside of his workout shorts.
"What makes the allegations even less credible is that Dr. Cauthen never informed her patient of the purported exposure. Dr. Cauthen was Mr. Primo's mental health support provider and confidant; a therapist who Mr. Primo trusted. She is much older than Mr. Primo, with many years of experience as a sports psychologist. It is baffling why she did not bother to tell her patient that his private parts were visible underneath his shorts.
"Josh Primo is at the beginning of a promising career and has been devastated by these false allegations and release by the Spurs. He is in the process of seeking treatment to deal with the trauma inflicted on him by Dr. Cauthen's misleading allegations, in addition to the previous trauma he suffered as a child. He looks forward to clearing his name and to moving forward with his NBA career."
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After the press conference concluded on Thursday, Spurs CEO RC Buford released the following statement:
At the end of her press conference, Cauthen issued a statement of her own: "I am disheartened to be standing here sharing the events of my story, but I'm also very humbled and honored to have a place to share words that others may not have been able to," she said. "I'm a clinical sports psychologist. I'm a mother of four wonderful daughters, I am a woman. And I am a victim.
"I am many things, but I am not alone in my fight to do the right thing. The right thing is to say no, this is not okay. To hold people accountable. To make systemic change, and to protect those that suffer in silence. The right thing is also saying I'm sorry, I have failed you, and we need to do better. My passion is to help others learn how to thrive in their world and help organizations develop a culture of care. The organization I worked for has failed me, and in turn, I've felt that I have failed those around me when I wanted to make change. I spoke up, I asked for help, I gave options. My voice and my feelings, my actual items were silenced.
"Due to their inaction and protection of their assets, other individuals were impacted, and for that, I am truly sorry. I ask for everyone listening to not jump to harsh criticism or conclusions, this is a sensitive matter, and these are humans who are impacted. We cannot assume, but we can take action. It took the Spurs 10 months to do the right thing. That's too long. My hope is that all who hear can learn from this. I hope that through this I can be an agent for change. It's never too late for us to change and be better."
To date, the Spurs have offered no apology for what has transpired, according to Buzbee. Spurs Sports & Entertainment CEO RC Buford did, however, provide an official statement concerning the allegations made in the suit following Thursday's press conference.
"We disagree with the accuracy of facts, details and timeline presented today. While we would like to share more information, we will allow the legal process to play out. Our organization remains committed to upholding the highest standards and we will continue to live by our values and culture."
While it remains to be seen what the outcome of these suits will be, a messy legal battle appears to be on the way.