Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is now facing more than 22 civil lawsuits of sexual assault and misconduct. The accusations differed in detail, but included both exposing himself without consent and forcing women into non-consensual sexual acts.
Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin has filed and been granted a motion requiring that the names of the plaintiffs be revealed. According to Texas law, suits cannot be filed anonymously. The motion was granted in application to 14 of the 22 cases, but only 2 names have been revealed to the general public so far.
The two women who have come forward and testified expressed that they felt a duty to speak up and hopefully keep Watson from committing further assaults.
One woman, Mary, relayed her experience with Watson in a Sports Illustrated article, saying that he refused to keep himself covered and that he began to perform actions that made the massage therapist uncomfortable. These actions included thrusting in the air and suggesting that he wanted her to touch him inappropriately.
Mary has not taken any legal action against Watson thus far, but has stated that she wanted to bring attention to his actions and hopes to prevent future incidents.
“What if he goes to Atlanta or California or anywhere else? He would have a whole new community of massage therapists to target.” Mary told Sports Illustrated.
Almost all of the allegations revolved around Watson’s experiences and actions are with massage therapists. The cited events spanned the last year with the first one reported on March 30, 2020 and the most recent cited as March 5, 2021.
The cases are still ongoing, and Watson is currently under the investigation of the NFL. The Texans have not yet made a statement regarding his status as a team member. Watson and his legal team have denied the claims and continue to plead innocence. They released a statement claiming that Watson was “dumbfounded” by the accusations.
Watson’s lawyer Hardin also claimed that all actions were “mutually desired” by both Watson and the women involved. As of Wed. April 7 Watson’s Nike endorsement was suspended by the company. There has also been reports that his deal with Beats by Dre is being terminated following the allegations.
Nike released a statement saying “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson.” Other sponsors including Reliant energy and H-E-B grocery stores have expressed intent to also terminate involvement with Watson.
As for Watson’s career, the consequences are unknown. According to the NFL code of conduct, “Violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will result in a baseline six-game suspension without pay.” The NFL is waiting for the ruling of the investigations before enacting any consequences, and players found guilty of sexual assault receive only a suspension for first time offenses.
Watson was also seeking a trade to leave the Texans before the lawsuits were filed. It is unclear what will happen and if any teams will take him in. Decisions will depend upon the outcome of the investigation.
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