A sports psychologist who worked for the San Antonio Spurs said in a lawsuit filed Thursday that Joshua Primo, a former lottery draft pick of the Spurs, repeatedly exposed himself to her during treatment sessions and that the team did not protect her and others after she reported his conduct.
Dr. Hillary Cauthen, a licensed clinical psychologist who was contracted by the team in September 2021, said Primo first exposed his penis to her in December 2021. She asked for a meeting with Spurs General Manager Brian Wright, according to her complaint, but didn’t get one until March 2022. She was then asked to continue working with Primo, who again exposed himself to her in another session, according to a copy of her lawsuit, which was provided by her lawyer, Tony Buzbee.
The filing was not immediately available from the court, but the clerk’s office in Bexar County, Texas, where San Antonio is located, confirmed that Dr. Cauthen filed a lawsuit against Primo and the Spurs on Thursday.
On Friday, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said it had begun a preliminary investigation into Dr. Cauthen’s allegations.
Primo’s lawyer, William J. Briggs II, said in a statement that Primo “never intentionally exposed himself” to Dr. Cauthen or any other person. Primo was not aware his genitals were visible outside of his workout shorts, Briggs said, and Dr. Cauthen did not tell him they were.
“Dr. Cauthen’s allegations are either a complete fabrication, a gross embellishment or utter fantasy,” Briggs said.
The Spurs said in a statement: “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.”
An N.B.A. spokesman said, “We are aware of the allegations and are monitoring the situation.”
The Spurs cut Primo, the No. 12 pick in the 2021 N.B.A. draft, last Friday. The team did not explain the reasons behind the sudden move, which came five games into the season and two weeks after the team exercised the third-year option in Primo’s contract, guaranteeing his $4.3 million salary for the 2023-24 season.
Buzbee, who represented two dozen women who accused N.F.L. quarterback Deshaun Watson of harassment and lewd conduct in massage appointments, said in a news conference Thursday that he and Dr. Cauthen were trying to resolve the issue privately and wanted the Spurs to put in place formal protocols for handling complaints like Dr. Cauthen’s. They filed a lawsuit against Primo and the Spurs after anonymously sourced news reports said that Primo was released because he exposed himself to multiple women.
According to the copy of her lawsuit, Dr. Cauthen had multiple meetings with members of the Spurs organization, including Wright, the deputy general counsel and the head of human resources, after she complained about Primo’s conduct. The team promised to conduct an investigation but did not take immediate steps to discipline Primo or ensure she did not have to interact with him, Dr. Cauthen said.
The team suggested she work from home and later told her to “sit out” traveling with the Spurs during the 2022 Summer League in Las Vegas after she said she was frustrated with the team’s inaction, her lawsuit said. Dr. Cauthen, who co-owns an Austin-based performance and psychological services company, said she was not retained by the Spurs when her contract came up for renewal in August.
“The organization I worked for has failed me,” Dr. Cauthen said at the news conference. “I spoke up. I asked for help.”
Buzbee said Dr. Cauthen will also file a criminal complaint in Bexar County, accusing Primo of multiple counts of indecent exposure.
Primo was placed on waivers last weekend, which gave other teams the chance to claim him. No team did, and Primo became an unrestricted free agent.
In a statement announcing that the team was waiving Primo, R.C. Buford, the chief executive of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, said, “It is our hope that, in the long run, this decision will serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua.” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich declined to comment to reporters at the time.
Until Dr. Cauthen’s lawsuit was filed, neither Primo nor the Spurs had directly addressed the reasons for his release. In a statement to ESPN last Friday, Primo said he had been seeking help to deal with “previous trauma” and would be focusing on his mental health treatment after his release.
Buzbee called the public statements made by Primo and the Spurs “complete farces” and said they did not reflect what happened. Dr. Cauthen said she was “disheartened” by the situation.
“It took the Spurs 10 months to do the right thing,” Dr. Cauthen said of the decision to waive Primo. “That’s too long.”