Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks to the media after minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Attorney: 20 of 24 cases against Deshaun Watson settled

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached confidential settlements with 20 of the 24 massage therapists who filed civil lawsuits against him alleging sexual misconduct, according to the attorney representing the women.

In a statement released Tuesday, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said those cases will be dismissed as soon as the paperwork is completed.

Buzbee said the lawsuits filed by original complainant Ashley Solis and “three other brave women” have not been settled and their cases will continue.

“I look forward to trying these cases in due course,” Buzbee said.

Watson, 26, has previously denied the accusations made against him.

“I’ve never forced anyone. I’ve never assaulted anyone,” Watson told reporters last week at a Cleveland minicamp. “I’ve been saying it from the beginning and I’m going to continue to say it.”

Solis and the other women suing Watson allege that he committed sexual improprieties during the course of massages. Two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against him earlier this year.

“The cases against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis,” Buzbee’s statement Tuesday began. “… Even though she was originally turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I personally speak with her. I’m glad she persisted. Once we took a second look, and after having contact with Watson’s original lawyer who disrespected Ashley and her profession and who arrogantly minimized the conduct of someone he referred to as an ‘asset,’ I was convinced that our law firm should try to help her.

“As a result of Ashley’s lone but brave voice, soon many women who had allegedly experienced the same conduct were emboldened to step forward. I am incredibly proud to represent them all. They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withering cross examination by skilled litigators and stood firm. They are warriors all.”

The Browns acquired Watson from the Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

The NFL continues to investigate and recently wrapped up its interviews with Watson. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the NFL could suspend him for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

Watson did not play during the 2021 NFL season. In 2020, the three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and set a career high with 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson listens to questions during his introductory press conference at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility on Friday.

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Reports: Two more women to sue Deshaun Watson, totaling 26

Two more women are in the process of filing suit against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, KPRC2 in Houston and CBS Sports reported Monday.

According to CBS, attorney Tony Buzbee said he will be filing a 25th lawsuit “in due course,” while yet another woman came forward to him after watching some of Watson’s accusers speak on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

The women all allege Watson committed sexual improprieties during the course of massages. He has denied all accusations, and two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year.

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

The New York Times reported last week that Watson met with at least 66 female massage therapists over a period of 17 months while he played for the Houston Texans.

Watson’s defense attorney, Rusty Hardin, recently conceded that Watson had sexual contact with three of the women but claimed all such cases were consensual.

The NFL continues to investigate Watson and recently wrapped up interviews with the quarterback. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the league could suspend Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson won’t be deposed until early 2022

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson won’t be deposed in the civil action against him until February 2022, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Citing Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, the discovery phase of the lawsuits against him has begun and will continue well into the upcoming NFL season. Depositions begin in September and all 22 accusers will be deposed before Watson. He can’t be deposed before Feb. 22, per the report.

Hardin said Tuesday there are no settlement discussions taking place. Earlier this month, the attorney representing the 22 women, Tony Buzbee, said they won’t accept a financial settlement in exchange for dropping their sexual misconduct lawsuits against Watson.

Watson and Hardin have denied allegations that anything inappropriate occurred during the massage sessions. In a news conference on April 9, Hardin acknowledged that Watson had “consensual encounters” with women on some occasions.

Watson is not attending OTAs with the Texans and had requested a trade before the allegations began to surface.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Attorney: Deshaun Watson accusers won’t settle

The attorney for the 22 women accusing Texas quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct said they won’t accept a financial settlement in exchange for dropping their lawsuits.

Attorney Tony Buzbee told FOX 26 in Houston in a phone interview Wednesday night that the women will let the cases play out. The cases are linked to massage sessions.

Buzbee said four of his clients have met with investigators for the NFL and even more have talked with the Houston Police Department. He praised law enforcement’s interaction with the women but criticized the league.

“Some of the women did not feel like they were being respected,” Buzbee told the station, adding, “Let’s be clear. Every time these women recount the situation, they have to relive it.”

He said more women have indicated they will cooperate with the league investigation but he isn’t sure he will permit it.

Watson and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, have denied allegations that anything inappropriate occurred during the massage sessions. In a news conference on April 9, Hardin acknowledged that Watson had “consensual encounters” with women on some occasions.

“I’m not going into what it is, the nature, the numbers or with whom,” Hardin said. “The question always, that we have always been emphasizing: Never, at any time, under any circumstances … did this young man ever engage in anything that was not mutually desired by the other party.”

The league is taking the lead on the investigation into Watson’s alleged actions, with the Texans and new head coach David Culley in a wait-and-see mode regarding the status of their franchise quarterback as they plan for the 2021 season.

The franchise signed veteran Tyrod Taylor, an unrestricted free agent, on March 22. They also added Ryan Finley in a trade with the Cincinnati Bengals and selected Davis Mills of Stanford in the third round of the NFL draft last month.

General manager Nick Caserio said this week that with about four months before the start of the season, his team’s quarterback situation is the same as every other team’s.

“We’re all at the same point, essentially,” Caserio said Monday at the Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic, via team transcript. “We’re early in the offseason program. It’s a teaching time of year. So, the next phase will be Phase Two, so that will entail some other things. Again, we’ll take it one step at a time. We’re not going to put any unreasonable expectations on anybody. It’s kind of a waste of everybody’s time. It’s how do they improve? Can they make adjustments? What do they do one day? OK, can they stack multiple days together? Look, they’re going to have setbacks. You’re going to go out there, you’re going to have a bad play. OK, how do you respond to that? Can you make the adjustment? Do you understand why that happened? Those are the types of things right now that are really important.”

The offseason relationship between Watson, 25, and the team already was rocky before the first of the lawsuits was filed in March.

Last September, the Texans signed Watson to a four-year, $156 million contract extension. His relationship with the team has soured since, however, and he has requested a trade.

Watson has thrown for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns in four seasons since the Texans selected him with the 12th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has also rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs onto the field before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson attorney: Lawsuits ‘an avalanche of false accusations’

Dec 20, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith (58) picks up a fumble against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson’s attorney said his investigative team has found that the women accusing Deshaun Watson of inappropriate behavior during massage sessions aren’t giving accurate representations of their encounters with the Houston Texans quarterback.

Attorney Rusty Hardin made Watson’s case in a response filed Monday to the 22 lawsuits pending against Watson in Harris County, Texas. One woman withdrew her case out of privacy concerns once the court ordered the names of the accusers to be part of their individual civil suits last week.

“We and Mr. Watson take allegations of sexual misconduct against women very seriously, as we all should,” Hardin said in a separate statement he released Monday afternoon. “In the few days since his accusers’ names have been revealed, as was required by Texas law, we are discovering an avalanche of false accusations.”

The cases previously listed Jane Doe as the plaintiff.

The court filing summarizes Watson’s side of the story and states that after massage therapy sessions with Watson, eight plaintiffs “bragged about, praised, and were excited about massaging Mr. Watson.”

Another seven, the filing contends, “willingly worked or offered to work with Mr. Watson after their alleged incidents,” three more “lied about the number of times they actually worked with Watson,” three “lied about their alleged trauma and resulting harm,” and five more “told others they wanted to get money” from Watson.

“It was not until the plaintiffs saw an opportunity for a money grab that they changed their stories to convert therapy sessions they bragged about to friends and family to something much more nefarious,” the response alleges.

Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 plaintiffs, did not immediately comment Monday.

The 25-year-old Watson, in a statement after the first lawsuit was filed on March 21, denied all allegations. Hardin doubled down on that Monday in his own statement.

“Only two of these 22 lawsuits alleged forced sexual activity, which Mr. Watson vehemently denies,” Hardin said. “In the case of Shenee Lawson, her business manager acknowledged to Mr. Watson’s marketing manager that the contact was consensual, but she still wanted money.

“And in the case of Marchelle Davis, witnesses state that Ms. Davis was happy and excited after she massaged Mr. Watson. … In addition, she told witnesses that if Mr. Watson had paid her off, she would have supported him instead of suing him.”

The NFL is continuing with its own investigation into the women’s allegations.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Two more lawsuits filed against QB Deshaun Watson

Two more civil lawsuits accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct were filed on Tuesday evening in a Texas court, bringing the overall total to 21.

The lawsuits appeared on the website of the Harris County District Clerk on Wednesday morning.

The two most recent lawsuits come from a massage professional in Arizona and from a Houston woman working to get her massage license.

The Houston woman said she provided massage services on four occasions to Watson in mid-2020. And while the first three appointments left her upset and shaken, she continued to work with Watson because she feared he could ruin her reputation as she tried to get her business started. The fourth appointment, she said, culminated in forced oral sex, and she refused to work with him after that.

Also, one of the new lawsuits states Watson has “unsent” messages on Instagram and has contacted the women who previously massaged him “through intermediaries.” That statement clarifies the contents of a lawsuit filed by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee on Sunday that said Watson was deleting Instagram messages and contacting the women “who formally provided him massages, in an attempt to settle.”

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement Monday contradicting the claims in that lawsuit.

“Like a lot of people, Deshaun regularly deletes past Instagram messages,” Hardin said. “That said, he has not deleted any messages since March 15th, the day before the first lawsuit was filed. We categorically deny that he has reached out directly to his accusers in an attempt to settle these cases.”

Buzbee also posted on Instagram on Tuesday that he doesn’t feel comfortable going to the Houston Police Department with any information.

“I’ve since learned that my legal opponent, Mr. Hardin, has a son who is on of the exclusive Command Staff of HPD,” Buzbee wrote on Instagram. “I am not saying in any way that Deshaun Watson’s lawyer, Mr. Hardin, has a son who has a position that would compromise HPD and its investigation. I support his service, along with all Houston police officers–I think the rank and file know that. But, I am saying that me and my clients will go elsewhere to provide our evidence to investigative authorities.”

Watson, 25, denied the allegations after the first lawsuit was filed on March 16..

“I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect,” Watson wrote, in part, adding he looked forward to defending his name.

No criminal charges have been filed.

The NFL said on March 18 that cases of alleged wrongdoing by Watson are under investigation. The Texans said team officials will stay in contact with the league.

Last September, the Texans signed Watson to a four-year, $156 million contract extension. His relationship with the team has soured since, however, and he has requested a trade.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rolls out of the pocket against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Lawsuit: Deshaun Watson deleting IG messages, trying to settle

Three more civil lawsuits accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct were filed Sunday night in a Texas court, bringing the overall total to 19.

The lawsuits appeared on the website of the Harris County District Clerk on Monday morning.

One of those lawsuits claims Watson is deleting Instagram messages and contacting the women “who formally provided him massages, in an attempt to settle.”

“Plaintiffs have not brought these cases for money or attention; instead Plaintiffs seek a change in behavior with regard to Watson, and a change of culture in the NFL,” read the lawsuit, filed by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee.

More lawsuits are expected. Buzbee said more than 20 women had reported such encounters with Watson.

The first lawsuit was filed March 16, at which time Watson, 25, denied the allegations.

“I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect,” Watson wrote, in part, adding he looked forward to defending his name.

No criminal charges have been filed.

The NFL said on March 18 that cases of alleged wrongdoing by Watson are under investigation. The Texans said team officials will stay in contact with the league.

Last September, the Texans signed Watson to a four-year, $156 million contract extension. His relationship with the team has soured since, however, and he has requested a trade.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Civil claims against Deshaun Watson up to seven

Seven women are now accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault or misconduct, based on civil lawsuits filed in a district court in Harris County, Texas.

Four more lawsuits were filed Thursday night and appeared in official court records on Friday. In a statement issued on social media Tuesday night after the first suit was filed, Watson denied the accusations.

The lawsuits all are linked to massage sessions last year and allege that Watson committed acts that included forcing one woman to perform oral sex, trying to kiss another or touching others with his genitals.

His agent, David Mulugheta, discussed sexual assault on Twitter on Friday without mentioning Watson.

“Sexual assault is real. Victims should be heard, offenders prosecuted,” he wrote. “Individuals fabricate stories in pursuit of financial gain often. Their victims should be heard, and those offenders also prosecuted. I simply hope we keep this same energy with the truth.”

The NFL said Thursday that cases alleged wrongdoing by Watson are under investigation.

The seven women all are represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who posted on Instagram that he would hold a news conference on Friday and release text messages of conversations that purportedly took place between Watson and at least some of the women.

Watson has not been charged with any crimes.

It’s been a rocky offseason for the 25-year-old Watson, who has requested to be traded after four seasons in Houston. The Texans signed him to a four-year, $160 million contract extension last September.

Despite the allegations, “several NFL teams” are interested in a potential trade for Watson. The prospective suitors include the Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, according to the report.

–Field Level Media