A psychologist who worked for the San Antonio Spurs is suing the team and former player Josh Primo, alleging he exposed himself to her multiple times during private sessions.
Hillary Cauthen worked as a performance psychologist for the team. A lawsuit filed Thursday in Bexar County alleges Primo, 19, exposed her genitals to her nine times “despite her numerous complaints about Primo’s inappropriate sexual conduct to the organization’s management.”
Cauthen spoke publicly about the allegations against Primo for the first time Thursday in an emotional news conference where she wept openly.
“I am many things, but I am not alone in the struggle to do the right thing,” she said. “The right thing to do is to say, ‘No, this is not right.’ To hold people accountable. To make systemic change. To protect those who suffer in silence.”
The Spurs waived Primo last Friday, just four games into his second NBA season.
Primo, through his lawyer, denied any wrongdoing and criticized Cauthen’s claims, saying he is “playing on ugly stereotypes and racially charged fears for his own financial gain,” calling it an act of treason against a client.
“Dr. Cauthen’s allegations are either a complete fabrication, gross embellishment or outright fantasy,” said the attorney, William J. Briggs II. “Josh Primo never intentionally exposed himself to her or anyone else and didn’t even know that his private parts were visible outside of his training shorts.”
A Spurs spokesman did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment on the lawsuit. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has also declined to comment, other than to refer reporters to a benign statement the team released last week when it waived Primo.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who filed the suit, said criminal charges could follow against Primo.
“There will be a criminal complaint filed on multiple counts of indecent exposure against Mr. Primo,” Buzbee said. “And we hope the authorities will prosecute.”
The suit alleges that Primo first exposed himself to Cauthen in December and that she reported the behavior at that time. According to the lawsuit, “the exposures occurred on numerous occasions and grew progressively more extreme.”
Cauthen requested a meeting with Spurs general manager Brian Wright in January. He said he finally met with him on March 21, after several postponements, and explained what he alleges Primo had done in his sessions.
After that meeting, she was asked to meet Primo again in a public setting, and the lawsuit alleges she exposed herself again. He asked to meet her again after that, but she refused.
He said he had more meetings with Wright in the following months and met several times with lawyers for the Spurs organization. In July, she was not invited to accompany the team to the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and, according to the lawsuit, the Spurs told her they felt “she could not do her job professionally because of what was now a lack of trust between her and the team.”
Cauthen had been with Spurs since April 2021. Her contract was renewed at the end of August and she was not retained.
“I was honored and grateful to have the opportunity to be part of the team,” she said. “It’s very rare to have someone who has the opportunity to build something within an organization, and I chose to build something with people I trusted. And I feel like, more importantly, I missed the impact to help the others. [and] I lost my job.”
Buzbee said no other women have contacted Primo, but she expects they will in the coming days amid reports that Primo has allegedly exposed himself to other people.
“It’s not about the money, obviously,” Buzbee said. “It’s about putting formalized protocols in place… This has to change, and it has to change now.”
Cauthen was asked how he felt when Primo was released months after first reporting the allegations to the team.
“There is anger,” he said. “There is sadness. There is confusion.”
The Spurs took Primo with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft after one season at Alabama. Primo averaged 5.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in his rookie season with the Spurs and 7.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in four games this season.
The team recently picked up his third-year option, a largely procedural move that locked up a $4.3 million salary for next season and showed he was expected to remain in the plans Spurs. He was making $4.1 million this season.
Had he been claimed by another team before Monday, that team would have been responsible for the $8.4 million owed to Primo. He cleared waivers Monday and is a free agent.
Buzbee also represented 24 women who sued Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for sexual assault or harassment when he was with the Houston Texans. Watson is serving an 11-game NFL suspension.
Report from The Associated Press.
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