A total of seven civil lawsuits have been filed against Deshaun Watson accusing the Texas quarterback of various incidents of sexual misconduct against massage therapists.
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee filed the first three lawsuits on March 16 and 17 regarding separate incidents involving charges by multiple massage therapists. Buzbee wrote in one of the lawsuits that Watson’s behavior was part of a “disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable women.” by Sarah Barshop from ESPN.
Four more lawsuits were filed on March 19. Buzbee said there were nine lawsuits in total, all filed by separate women who accuse Watson of sexual misconduct ranging from inappropriate touching to, in one case, a forced act of oral sex.
Here’s what we know about these lawsuits so far, and how Watson and the NFL have responded to the charges.
What you need to know about the lawsuit against Deshaun Watson
Trial 1 and 2
The first of them lawsuits were brought by Buzbee in Harris County, Texas. The first trial arises out of an incident that allegedly took place at a massage therapist’s home in March 2020, and the second trial arises out of an incident that allegedly took place at the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa in August 2020. The plaintiffs in these two lawsuits are female massage therapists who filed Jane Doe’s name.
Both lawsuits allege that Watson committed a civil assault by exposing himself and touching the plaintiffs with his penis. Both lawsuits also say that plaintiffs became “uncomfortable” during the massages and that the women abruptly ended their sessions after Watson acted inappropriately. They did not respond to any further communication attempts from Watson, who initially arranged the meetings via Instagram direct messages.
“It became clear that Watson wanted a massage for one reason – sex,” the first lawsuit says.
Watson reportedly told the complainant involved in the March 2020 incident: “I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate someone to play with yours, just like I don’t want anyone to play with mine. ” She viewed Watson’s remark as a threat, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs seek damages to “prevent Watson from continuing to behave in the same way.”
The third lawsuit stems from an incident that allegedly took place in a Houston office building in December 2020. The plaintiff in the lawsuit filed Jane Doe’s name.
While the third lawsuit alleges similar behavior towards the massage therapist, it also says that Watson “became more aggressive, forcefully telling him to move his hand toward his pubic area.” The lawsuit claims that Watson forced the woman, who felt “intimidated and threatened”, having given her a fellatio and that she “did not consent”.
“The plaintiff wished she could have been more courageous and put an end to the massage”, the trial declares. “But she felt helpless at the time. The plaintiff was under Watson’s control.”
Four more civil lawsuits were filed against Watson on March 19, bringing the total to seven. Three of the four lawsuits allege Watson had improper contact with women during massage sessions, by Barshop. The fourth said Watson tried to kiss a woman against her will.
Who is Tony Buzbee?
Buzbee is the attorney for the Houston-based law firm Buzbee. He is a former naval officer and attended law school at the University of Houston Law Center, according to his biography on the website of the law firm Buzbee. He has represented a number of high profile clients, including former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
He also ran for public office, recently launching an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of Houston in 2019 against incumbent Sylvester Turner.
In an Instagram post shared from her verified account on March 18, Buzbee said law firm Buzbee had been hired by nine women to sue Watson, although only three had been filed at that time. .
“The allegations are similar. We have filed three and, as we do our due diligence, we will file the others in due course,” the post said. “We are talking to several others. [Buzbee’s associate] Cornelia [Brandfield-Harvey] and I appreciate the kind words and the outpouring of support for these courageous women who want to be heard and to be heard.
“No matter what you do for a living, there will always be detractors. As my dad always said, ‘If you’re right, go for it! “And we are going.”
What did Deshaun Watson say?
Watson posted the following statement to Twitter March 16:
As a result of a social media post by a plaintiff’s lawyer seeking publicity, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been brought against me. I haven’t seen the complaint yet, but I know: I’ve never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect. Complainant’s lawyer claims it’s not about money, but before filing a complaint he made a baseless six-figure claim, which I quickly dismissed. Unlike him, it’s not about the money for me – it’s about clearing my name, and I can’t wait to do it.
Houston-based attorney Rusty Hardin says ESPN that he spoke to Watson on March 17 and agreed to represent him.
“I’m really comfortable with the kind of person Deshaun Watson is, and I don’t like commenting publicly until I get all the facts,” Hardin said, adding that Watson “has a great reputation here in the Houston area, and the claims are really inconsistent with the kind of person he is. “
Watson’s agent David Mulugheta shared his thoughts on the lawsuits in a tweet posted on March 19:
The sexual assault is real. The victims should be heard, the offenders prosecuted.
People often fabricate stories in search of financial gain. Their victims should be heard and these offenders also prosecuted.
I just hope we keep that same energy with the truth.
– David Mulugheta (@DavidMulugheta) March 19, 2021
Texans, NFL investigate Deshaun Watson?
Texans issued the following statement the 17th of March:
We learned of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post last night. This is the first time we are hearing about the issue and we hope to hear more soon. We take accusations of this nature that implicate anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We will await further information before making any further statements on this incident.
Pro Football Talk reported on March 19 that Lisa Friel, the NFL’s special investigative counsel, wrote Buzbee a letter telling him the league had opened an investigation. She asked Buzbee and her clients to cooperate with her.
Buzbee published, then deleted, then reposted the letter on his Instagram page. He ultimately wrote that his camp “will cooperate with the NFL investigation and with all other investigating authorities.”
An anonymous official of the league says ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the league investigate Watson as part of its personal conduct policy. The Texans said in a second statement on March 19 (by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle) that they would “remain in close contact” with the league during the investigation.