A complete of 21 civil lawsuits have been filed against Deshaun Watson accusing the Texans quarterback of inappropriate conduct and sexual assault.
Houston legal professional Tony Buzbee filed the primary three lawsuits on March 16 and 17 associated to separate incidents involving accusations from a number of therapeutic massage therapists. Buzbee wrote in one of many lawsuits that Watson’s conduct is a part of a “disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable women,” per ESPN’s Sarah Barshop.
The lawsuits have all been filed by ladies who accuse Watson of sexual misconduct starting from inappropriate touching to compelled oral intercourse.
Here is what we know thus far about these lawsuits and the way Watson and the NFL have responded to the accusations.
What to know about lawsuits against Deshaun Watson
Lawsuits 1 and a pair of
The first two lawsuits have been filed by Buzbee in Harris County, Texas. The first lawsuit stems from an incident that allegedly occurred at a therapeutic massage therapist’s residence in March 2020, and the second lawsuit stems from an incident that allegedly befell at The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa in August 2020. The plaintiffs in each of these lawsuits are feminine therapeutic massage therapists who filed as Jane Doe.
Both lawsuits allege that Watson dedicated civil assault by exposing himself and touching the plaintiffs together with his penis. Both lawsuits additionally say the plaintiffs grew “uncomfortable” in the course of the massages, and the ladies abruptly ended their classes after Watson acted inappropriately. They didn’t reply to any further makes an attempt at communication from Watson, who initially arrange the conferences by way of Instagram direct messages, per the lawsuits.
“It became apparent that Watson wanted a massage for only one reason — sex,” the primary lawsuit states.
Watson allegedly advised the plaintiff concerned within the March 2020 incident: “I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.” She thought of Watson’s comment to be a risk, per the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs are in search of compensatory damages so as to “prevent Watson from further like conduct.”
The third lawsuit stems from an incident that allegedly occurred at a Houston workplace constructing in December 2020. The plaintiff within the lawsuit filed as Jane Doe.
While the third lawsuit alleges an analogous sample of conduct towards the therapeutic massage therapist, it additionally says Watson “got more aggressive, forcefully telling her to move her hand down to his pubic area.” The lawsuit claims Watson compelled the girl, who felt “intimidated and threatened,” to carry out oral intercourse on him and that she “did not consent.”
“Plaintiff wishes she could have been more courageous and would have ended the massage,” the lawsuit states. “But she felt helpless in the moment. Plaintiff was under Watson’s control.”
Four extra civil lawsuits have been filed against Watson on March 19, bringing the whole to seven. Three of the 4 lawsuits allege Watson made inappropriate contact with ladies throughout therapeutic massage classes, per Barshop. The fourth claims Watson tried to kiss a lady against her will.
Seven extra civil lawsuits have been filed on March 22, together with one which accuses Watson of sexually assaulting a lady in March 2021 — the newest allegation to date. The alleged incidents included within the seven lawsuits vary from April 2020 to March 2021.
“Plaintiff believes Watson to be a serial predator,” the 14th lawsuit states.
Lawsuits 15 and 16 have been filed on March 23, alleging conduct related to what was described by different plaintiffs. Three extra lawsuits have been then filed on March 28, alleging Watson “purposely” touched ladies together with his penis.
One of those lawsuits states Watson had been “deleting Instagram messages and contacting those who formally provided him massages, in an attempt to settle.” Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, denied that Watson had “reached out directly to his accusers in an attempt to settle these cases” and stated Watson had not deleted any Instagram messages since March 15.
Lawsuits 20 and 21
Two extra lawsuits have been filed on March 30, together with one which alleged Watson groped a therapeutic massage therapist, coerced her into oral intercourse and ejaculated on her, per Barshop.
After these two lawsuits have been filed, Hardin launched statements from 18 ladies saying that Watson “never made them feel uncomfortable or demanded anything outside the scope of a professional massage.”
Deshaun Watson’s legal professional Rusty Hardin has now issued a press launch with what he says are 18 therapeutic massage therapists who assist Watson. Here is a pattern: pic.twitter.com/MAKPKEsVJm
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) March 31, 2021
Who is Tony Buzbee?
Buzbee is Houston-based lawyer of The Buzbee Law Firm. He is a former Marine officer and attended the regulation faculty on the University of Houston Law Center, according to his bio on The Buzbee Law Firm site. He has represented quite a few high-profile purchasers, together with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
He has additionally beforehand run for public workplace, most not too long ago launching an unsuccessful marketing campaign for mayor of Houston in 2019 against incumbent Sylvester Turner.
During a March 19 press convention, Buzbee advised reporters he had been in contact with the Houston Police Department, and he famous not one of the ladies he’s representing met with the police prior to talking with him. However, the Houston Police Department issued a press release by its official Twitter account on March 19 saying that it was “unaware of any contact between HPD and Houston attorney Tony Buzbee.”
At this time, HPD is unaware of any contact between HPD and Houston legal professional Tony Buzbee relating to the allegations contained in his not too long ago filed lawsuits and no incident experiences relating to these allegations have been filed in our jurisdiction.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) March 19, 2021
In a March 30 Instagram put up, Buzbee stated that he now doesn’t plan to work with the Houston Police Department.
“Our team has been roundly criticized because these numerous brave women haven’t filed formal criminal complaints with HPD (although we have provided info to other organizations),” Buzzbee stated. “Here is my worry: When I ran for Houston mayor against the current mayor, I called for the resignation of the former police chief. I was thus reluctant initially in these important cases to provide info to HPD, at least while Art Acevedo was the Police Chief — even though my brother in law is a long-term HPD officer. Mr. Acevedo has now left Houston for Miami.
“Yet, I’ve since discovered that my authorized opponent, Mr. Hardin, has a son who’s on of the unique Command Staff of HPD. I’m not saying in any approach that Deshaun Watson’s lawyer, Mr. Hardin, has a son who has a place that might compromise HPD and its investigation. I assist his service, together with all Houston law enforcement officials — I believe the rank and file know that. But, I’m saying that me and my purchasers will go elsewhere to present our proof to investigative authorities.”
What has Deshaun Watson said?
Watson posted the following statement to Twitter on March 16:
As a results of a social media put up by a publicity-seeking plaintiff’s lawyer, I not too long ago grew to become conscious of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me. I’ve not but seen the grievance, however I know this: I’ve by no means handled any girl with something apart from the utmost respect. The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this is not about cash, however earlier than submitting swimsuit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I rapidly rejected. Unlike him, this is not about cash for me — it is about clearing my identify, and I look ahead to doing that.
Hardin told ESPN that he spoke with Watson on March 17 and agreed to signify him.
“I’m real comfortable with the kind of person that Deshaun Watson is, and I don’t like to publicly comment until I get all the facts,” Hardin stated, including that Watson “has a great reputation here in the Houston area, and the allegations are really inconsistent with the kind of person he is.”
Watson’s agent, David Mulugheta, shared his ideas on the lawsuits in a tweet posted on March 19:
Sexual assault is actual. Victims must be heard, offenders prosecuted.
Individuals fabricate tales in pursuit of monetary acquire usually. Their victims must be heard, and people offenders additionally prosecuted.
I merely hope we maintain this similar power with the reality.
— David Mulugheta (@DavidMulugheta) March 19, 2021
Hardin launched a more detailed statement to TMZ Sports on March 23:
“I need to emphasize on the outset that we and Deshaun acknowledge that sexual assault and harassment usually are not solely illegal, however morally flawed. It takes braveness for girls to come ahead to report being mistreated, significantly after they connect their names to a lawsuit. We don’t take these allegations frivolously. However, equity to the accused is equally as necessary.
“Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like ambiance through the use of social media to publicize 14 ‘Jane Doe’ lawsuits in the course of the previous seven days in a fashion calculated to inflame the general public and malign Deshaun’s in any other case sterling repute. In addition, the tactic of refusing our requests to confidentially present the names of the plaintiffs so we are able to totally examine their claims makes uncovering the reality extraordinarily troublesome. Anonymity is usually obligatory as a defend for victims however opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun earlier than the reality‑in search of course of may even start.
“I imagine that any allegation that Deshaun compelled a lady to commit a sexual act is totally false. And within the one case by which we’ve been ready to establish a plaintiff, we’ve robust proof exhibiting the allegation is fake. In January of this 12 months, a lady tried to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in alternate for her ‘indefinite silence’ about what she acknowledged was a consensual encounter. It is our perception this girl is the plaintiff in Cause No. 2021-15613. This calls into query the legitimacy of the opposite instances as nicely.
“We have obtained quite a few unsolicited feedback previously week from many licensed therapeutic massage therapists who’ve labored with Deshaun in recent times. These ladies describe him as a gentleman and a mannequin consumer who by no means engaged in inappropriate conduct. Indeed, earlier than these salacious claims, everybody who related to Deshaun described him as an impressive, respectful and compassionate man.
“Again, we are taking the allegations very seriously but we ask only that people not rush to judgment, that people not be unduly influenced by opposing counsel’s antics, and that they let fundamental fairness to both sides rule the day. Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
Are the Texans, NFL investigating Deshaun Watson?
The Texans released the following statement on March 17:
We grew to become conscious of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson by a social media put up final evening. This is the primary time we heard of the matter, and we hope to be taught extra quickly. We take accusations of this nature that contain anybody throughout the Houston Texans group significantly. We will await additional information earlier than making any further statements on this incident.
Pro Football Talk reported March 19 that Lisa Friel, the NFL’s particular counsel for investigations, wrote Buzbee a letter telling him the league has begun an investigation. She requested that Buzbee and his purchasers cooperate with it.
Buzbee posted, then deleted, and then reposted the letter on his Instagram web page. He ultimately wrote that his facet “will cooperate with the NFL’s investigation and with any other investigative authorities.”
An nameless league official told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the league is investigating Watson beneath its private conduct coverage. The Texans stated in a second assertion on March 19 (per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle) that they might “stay in close contact” with the league in the course of the investigation.