San Antonio Spurs aware of allegations against Josh Primo since January, lawsuit alleges

Dr. Hillary Cauthen also alleges the NBA franchise punished her and pushed her aside after she brought up her concerns about Primo.

click to enlarge The Spurs released 19-year-old Josh Primo last week. - Photo via Instagram / spurs
Photo via Instagram / spurs
The Spurs released 19-year-old Josh Primo last week.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Bexar County, a former psychologist for the San Antonio Spurs alleges the franchise ignored her repeated complaints about 19-year-old guard Josh Primo exposing himself and worked to "cover up his actions."

The suit further alleges that the team pushed out the psychologist, Dr. Hillary Cauthen, after she continued to ask officials to hold Primo responsible. The Spurs declined to renew her contract in August, according to the legal filing.

"His conduct wasn't restricted in any way," Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said during a Thursday press conference announcing the suit. "Instead, what happened was Dr. Cauthen's activities were restricted."

Buzbee, who's representing Cauthen, said he's also is seeking criminal charges against Primo and has been in contact with District Attorney Joe Gonzales' office. The lawyer has made recent headlines representing women in the sexual misconduct suits against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.

In a statement, Spurs Sports & Entertainment CEO RC Buford disputed the "accuracy of facts, details and timeline" presented at the press conference.

"While we would like to share more information, we will allow the legal process to play out," Buford added. "Our organization remains committed to upholding the highest standards and will continue to live by our values and culture."

The team released Primo last week, saying only that it hoped the move would "serve the best interest of both the organization and [Primo]," a 2021 draft pick.

In a statement supplied to sports journalist Shams Charania, Primo attorney William J. Briggs II accused Cauthen of fabricating her claims against the player. He also alleged the 40-year-old psychologist "never informed her patient of the purported exposure."

"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 psychologist, who is playing to ugly stereotypes and racially charged fears for her own financial benefit."

Primo exposed himself to Cauthen on nine different occasions, according to her lawsuit. The first occurred during a therapy session last December, she maintains.

Cauthen tried to inform Spurs General Manager Brian Wright the following month, but the official postponed his meeting with her several times, Buzbee said at the Houston press conference.

During Cauthen's first meeting with Wright, the GM assured her there would be an internal investigation, according to Buzbee. Even so, the Spurs called on her to continue having sessions with Primo, the attorney added. 

Despite Cauthen's initial complaint, Primo continued to expose his genitals to Cauthen, with his actions becoming "progressively more extreme," according to the lawsuit.

Cauthen met with lawyers for the Spurs organization in May, and they instructed her to avoid Primo at team facilities and outside of work, according the petition. The team's legal counsel also suggested setting up a meeting between the pair, the suit alleges. 

During the press conference, Buzbee called the idea of the meeting "ridiculous."

After Cauthen brought the matter to the Spurs' attention, the team declined to invite her to the July 2022 Summer League season in Las Vegas, she alleges in her suit. The franchise opted not to renew her contract the following month, according to the petition.

Further, the suit alleges that despite Wright being aware of allegations against Primo, the GM opted on Oct. 10 to exercise a $4.34 million option on the player for the 2023-2024 season.

Cauthen in June asked that the Spurs' legal counsel to make Coach Gregg Popovich aware of her situation — something to which they agreed, according to her claim. The attorneys further told her that Popovich "wanted to do right by her," the petition said.

During the press conference, Buzbee said he and Cauthen are unsure whether Popovich was ever notified.

Cauthen's pleading alleges that Primo exposed himself on two other occasions to other members of the Spurs staff this year. During the presser, Buzbee said he expects others to come forward soon. He called an in-depth review of the Spurs organization.

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