Ex-Spurs psychologist files lawsuit against team over repeated complaints about Josh Primo; Spurs dispute

“It took the Spurs 10 months to do the right thing, that’s too long,” psychologist said

A former San Antonio Spurs’ performance psychologist is suing the Spurs organization and former Spurs guard Josh Primo, who was suddenly released by the Spurs last week.

UPDATE: The San Antonio Spurs have made their first public statement following a Thursday morning press conference and lawsuit that accuses the organization of mishandling several complaints against player Josh Primo.

“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 will continue to live by our values and culture,” wrote Spurs Sports and Entertainment CEO RC Buford.

Original story follows.


A former San Antonio Spurs’ performance psychologist is suing the Spurs organization and former Spurs guard Josh Primo, who was suddenly released by the Spurs last week.

During a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Hillary Cauthen and Attorney Tony Buzbee said the lawsuit was filed because the Spurs failed to act after Cauthen repeatedly reported that Primo was exposing himself to her during counseling sessions.

“The organization I worked for has failed me,” Cauthen said. “I spoke up, I asked for help, I gave options.”

KSAT confirmed the lawsuit was filed in the 45th District Court in Bexar County — both the Spurs and Primo have been named.

Cauthen said she was silenced. Now, she’s speaking up and is also pursuing criminal charges against Primo, 19.

On Thursday afternoon, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office told KSAT that “no case has been filed... against Joshua Primo. If a law enforcement agency is conducting an investigation and submits a case to our office, we will conduct a review of that case and make decisions regarding prosecution at that time.”

Buzbee said they only decided to hold a press conference after someone in the Spurs organization leaked the reason for Primo’s departure.

“These kinds of matters can be resolved without all this,” Buzbee said. “This is the first time we’ve said anything (publicly).”

Cauthen is bound by doctor/patient confidentiality laws in Texas, so Buzbee said they would discuss the situation based on what is allowed by law.

Buzbee has represented several high-profile clients, including more than a dozen women who accused former Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson of sexual assault.

Primo responds

After Thursday’s press conference, Primo’s attorney released a statement saying Primo was the victim in the scenario.

“Josh Primo is a 19-year-old NBA player who has suffered a lifetime of trauma and challenges. He is now being victimized by his former appointed sports psychologist, who is playing to ugly stereotypes and racially charged fears for her own financial benefit,” William J. Briggs, II said in the statement.

“Dr. Cauthen’s allegations are either a complete fabrication, a gross embellishment or utter fantasy,” the statement continued.

Briggs said Primo was never informed by Cauthen that his private parts were visible under his shorts and said he looks forward to clearing his name and continuing his career in the NBA. (See Primo’s full statement at the bottom of this article).

Allegations and timeline

According to Buzbee, Cauthen joined the Spurs organization in April 2021 as a psychologist for the team.

A Spurs’ press release from last year said she has more than 13 years of experience, applying mental skills training while co-founding Blu Chip Analytics in 2017 and Living Mental Wellness in 2018 in Austin.

She has earned both a master’s and PsyD in clinical psychology, from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles. In her role with the Spurs, she helped the players with performance issues and mental health. She said it was her dream job.

But, in almost the very first session Cauthen had with Primo — in December 2021, he exposed his penis to her, Buzbee said. She tried to report it to the Spurs brass and was finally able to meet with the General Manager in January, he said.

The GM assured her there would be an investigation and a write-up, but as far as she could see, there were no consequences for Primo, Buzbee said.

Instead, the Spurs continued to call on her to have sessions with Primo and other team members, Buzbee said.

“She was hoping it was a one-time thing, but unfortunately the conduct continued to occur and in fact, escalate,” the attorney said.

Buzbee said the concerns she voiced didn’t seem to be taken seriously by the Spurs organization and she was told to just “sit it out.”

Eventually, Cauthen’s duties were limited. She was told to work from home and was kept out of meetings, Buzbee said.

In June, Cauthen insisted that Coach Gregg Popovich be informed about the incidents, and she was assured that he had been. Buzbee said Cauthen believes she was being lied to on that matter.

In July, as the team played in the Summer League in Las Vegas, Cauthen was told she didn’t need to travel and was told the team administration and team itself had lost trust in her, Buzbee said.

While Primo was in Las Vegas and Cauthen was working from home, Primo exposed himself to her during a session once again.

In August, her contract with the Spurs was not renewed.

According to Buzbee, Primo exposed himself again while the team was in Minnesota and that was what precipitated his release from the team – long after Cauthen first reported the behavior.

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: Joshua Primo #11 of the San Antonio Spurs looks on during the third quarter against the Miami Heat at FTX Arena on February 26, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

Spurs release Primo

Primo was waived by the Spurs last Friday, just four games into the season. A statement released by the Spurs said the release would “serve the best interest of both the organization and Joshua,” while Primo released a statement saying he was dealing with “previous trauma” and focusing on his mental health.

“The public statements from the Spurs and Primo added insult to injury and were complete farces,” Buzbee said.

Soon after the announcement, Primo’s jerseys were quickly removed from the official Spurs’ Fan Shop and on the NBA store’s website.

“It took the Spurs 10 months to do the right thing, that’s too long,” Cauthen said.

Cauthen, who is a mother of four daughters, teared up when she talked about all that she’s lost as a result of this situation.

“I lost the impact to help others within that organization,” Cauthen said. “I lost my job. It’s really hard.”

Buzbee asked any other victims to come forward. He said they expect authorities to prosecute Primo soon.

Full statement from Primo’s attorney:

READ MORE:


About the Authors:

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.