Editors’ note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Tony Buzbee released a statement Wednesday that he plans to add the Texans and “others” as defendants to the ongoing civil lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson.
The lawyer represents the 24 plaintiffs who filed active civil lawsuits against Watson, each detailing graphic accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. The accounts range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitals to the quarterback “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” The latest detailed that Watson masturbated and ejaculated on the plaintiff without her consent.
“We believe the Texans organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act,” Buzbee said. “They knew or certainly should have known.”
The statement comes a day after The New York Times released an investigation that found Watson booked sessions with at least 66 different women for massage therapy sessions in the span of 17 months. Additionally, The Times’ Jenny Vrentas revealed that a Houston-based spa and the Texans reportedly “enabled” Watson’s massage habit, specifically that the franchise provided nondisclosure agreements and facilities for his sessions.
The team, though, said in a March 2021 statement that it “became aware of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post.” It later added that “this is the first time we heard of the matter.”
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Watson previously said that to his knowledge, the franchise was not aware of the massage therapy sessions at the hotel, per Vrentas. However, one woman said she was told the room where she gave the then-Texans quarterback a massage was registered to a member of the team’s training staff.
The investigation also found that the now-Browns quarterback’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, and the prosecutors at the district attorney’s office on the QB’s criminal cases had extensive contact leading up to the two grand juries.
It is still unknown whether Watson will face a fine, a suspension or no punishment after the league’s investigation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently said that the league is “nearing the end of the investigation,” but no timeline was provided on when the disciplinary officer would issue a ruling. It turns out, though, that there is a key date that could play a role in when the decision will come—June 30.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, this is the deadline for pretrial discovery in the 24 active civil lawsuits the quarterback is facing. Breer wrote that “in the 2020 CBA, the NFL ceded the initial decision-making on discipline to a neutral arbitrator. And if you’re thinking like an ex-U.S. district court judge would, it stands to reason that you’d want as much information as possible before rendering a decision.” Breer’s guess is that the decision will likely come in July.
More Deshaun Watson Coverage:
Watson Plaintiff: ‘I’m Not a Sex Worker. I Am a Massage Therapist.’NFL Needs to Bench Deshaun Watson After Latest Details EmergeThe Browns Will Never Live Down the Watson TradeWhat You Haven’t Heard—But Need to Know—About the Deshaun Watson CasesAfter the Browns Signed Deshaun Watson, a Blast Radius of ’Emotions and Anger’When Deshaun Watson Says He ’Never Disrespected’ a Woman, Do the Cleveland Browns Believe Him?
Source : Sports Illustrated