The San Antonio Spurs ignored the team’s former sports psychologist’s repeated reports of Josh Primo’s indecent exposure, an attorney for the woman said at a press conference in Houston Thursday.
A lawsuit has been filed against the Spurs and Primo, attorney Tony Buzbee said. He plans to file a criminal complaint, too.
The lawsuit says Primo exposed himself to Dr. Hillary Cauthen nine times over the course of one season, starting in December 2021. Cauthen told the Spurs, including general manager Brian Wright, about the incident in January 2022.
‘Rather than act on Dr. Cauthen’s reports, the Spurs ignored her complaints, hoping the organization could ignore and then cover up Primo’s actions,” the lawsuit says. “The Spurs organization was willing to sacrifice Dr. Cauthen to keep what they hoped would one day be a star player. Once Primo’s conduct entered the public sphere, the Spurs were forced to act and release Primo.”
“It took a long time for her to get a meeting with the general manager,” Buzbee said. “He postponed a meeting multiple times. From her point of view, it seemed to be they weren’t taking it seriously or it didn’t matter to them. … Instead of something being done about (it), what instead happened was they continued to call upon her to have sessions with Mr. Primo. She did not want to lose this job. She was hoping this conduct was somehow outside of the norm and hoping it was a one-time thing. Unfortunately, the conduct continued to occur and in fact escalated.”
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The lawsuit says Cauthen met with Wright in March.
‘In that meeting, she voiced her concerns about Defendant Primo’s conduct, again without disclosing any communications in her sessions or any other information other than the offensive conduct,’ according to the lawsuit. ‘Dr. Cauthen expressed to Wright that she was uncomfortable meeting with Primo alone and she expressed feelings of confusion, embarrassment and fear. General Manager Wright promised to develop a plan with regard to Primo for the remainder of the season and said he would explore ‘how to navigate” the situation in general. The two also discussed the possibility of meeting with Primo and his agent to address his concerning behavior.
‘Despite Dr. Cauthen’s report, nothing was done about Primo’s behavior. Instead, Dr. Cauthen was called upon to meet with Primo again. This time Dr. Cauthen met with Primo in a public setting, but unfortunately this was no deterrent. Primo again exposed his penis.’
Buzbee said Primo exposed himself to another person during the team’s Las Vegas Summer League trip in July and again last week in Minnesota – just before the Spurs released Primo, saying in a statement, “It is our hope that, in the long run, this decision will serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua.”
Buzbee called the Spurs’ conduct egregious and unreasonable.
Said Cauthen: “The organization I worked for failed me.”
Cauthen’s contract with the Spurs was not renewed.
Just before the season began, the Spurs picked up the option year on his contract for the 2023-24 season. Primo, 19, was the No. 12 pick in the 2021 draft and expected to be a key player in the Spurs’ rebuild. It took the NBA by surprise when the Spurs announced his release on Friday.
Primo’s attorney, William J. Briggs, released a statement following Buzbee’s news conference.
“Josh Primo is a 19-year-old NBA player who has suffered a lifetime of trauma and challenges,” Briggs said. “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.”
The Spurs released their own statement on Thursday afternoon.
“We disagree with the accuracy of facts, details and timeline presented today,’ the statement read. ‘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 will continue to live by our values and culture.”
Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt