Ed. Note: Last week, we explained why were going to refrain from frequently posting about Deshaun Watson’s ongoing legal problems. Some of those who reacted to that article questioned why we couldn’t simply provide updates without offering opinions as to the veracity of the claims. That’s a fair request, so consider this our initial attempt at doing so. We reserve the right to reconsider our position.
Sixteen (16) lawsuits alleging sexual assault and/or inappropriate conduct have now been filed against Deshaun Watson. In the most recent filing, the claimant calls Watson a “serial predator.” Sarah Barshop of ESPN writes:
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday night and appeared on the Harris County District Clerk’s website Tuesday morning, alleges that Watson “assaulted and harassed Plaintiff by exposing himself to her and touching her with his penis.”
The incident allegedly took place in California, just the second of the 14 allegations to take place outside the Houston area.
The traveling massage therapist alleges that when she arrived at the address Watson gave her, he led her to a room and “locked the doors behind him.” After Watson allegedly “forced Plaintiff’s hand onto his penis” during the massage, he allegedly told her, “I will not have you sign a NDA but don’t ever talk about this.”
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has issued a statement that the allegations are “meritless” and that, “any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false.” In that statement, Hardin contends that one of the plaintiffs, prior to any legal filing, attempted to blackmail Watson; Hardin included a declaration from Bryan Burney, Watson’s marketing manager, in which the alleged extortion attempt of $30,000.00 was detailed.
The attorney representing all of the plaintiffs, Tony Buzbee, has stated on Instagram posts that his office will be submitting several affidavits and evidence from women that have experienced sexual assault at the hands of Watson to the Houston Police Department and Houston District Attorney.
Elisa Batista, campaign director for women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, stated:
“The NFL’s failure to take the mounting sexual abuse lawsuits against Deshaun Watson more seriously is an infuriating sign of the league’s cavalier attitude toward violence against women. Despite the severity of these allegations and the pattern that Watson targeted women massage therapists specifically, the NFL has taken zero action, insisting that the matter is simply ‘under review.’ What’s equally troubling is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s indifference. For years, [Goodell] has turned a blind eye to violence and sexual abuse committed by players throughout the League.”
Since Buzbee’s initial Instagram post on the matter back on March 16th, more and more women have come forward with complaints of alleged encounters that led to sexual assault and/or inappropriate conduct by Deshaun Watson. This has become a defining controversy for both Watson and the Houston Texans. The matter remains pending until there is a conclusion by the NFL and the aforementioned 16 lawsuits.
If you are experiencing or have experienced sexual assault in some shape or form, you are not alone. If you are in need of help, you may contact one or more of the following organizations:
- The RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE
- National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE
- National Coalition against Domestic Violence
- Take Back The Night Foundation
- Asian Pacific Institute of Gender-Based Violence
- Men Can Stop Rape
- Strong Hearts Native Helpline: 844-762-8483
- National Latin@ Network
- The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Hope Exists After Rape Trauma
- Project Respect
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-233-TALK
If you have the means, please consider donating to any of these causes.