Sean Pendergast

Deshaun Watson Received First Criminal Complaint in Massage Lawsuit Saga

We got our first criminal complaint about Deshaun Watson late last week.
We got our first criminal complaint about Deshaun Watson late last week. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Since Tony Buzbee began raining civil lawsuits down upon Deshaun Watson, there have been three battlefronts with whom the Texans' quarterback has to concern himself. First, are the aforementioned 21 plaintiffs (soon to be 22, more on that in a minute) who have accused Watson of varying degrees of sexual misconduct, ranging from merely disturbing to outright criminal. The other two battlefronts have been the commencement of an NFL investigation into Watson's activities, and the possibility of criminal investigation by the Houston Police Department (and other law enforcement outlets).

Those latter two battlefronts have lurked far more quietly than Buzbee's, but that may all be changing now, with news that Watson has received his first criminal complaint in this saga. This news came down on Friday afternoon (which happens to be the weekly appointment time for a vast majority of Watson-related news), and was confirmed in a statement from HPD:

“Today, a complainant filed a report with the Houston Police Department concerning Deshaun Watson. As with any allegation, the Houston Police Department is now conducting an investigation and will not comment further during the investigative process.”
It's not clear as to whether the criminal complaint filed against Watson is one of the existing plaintiffs in the civil litigation against Watson. Regardless, Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement that seems to indicate Watson's camp actually welcoming the opportunity for the vetting of a criminal complaint. Hardin's statement from Friday shortly after the criminal complaint was announced went as follows:

"We welcome this long overdue development. Now we will learn the identity of at least one accuser. We will fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department." 
Keep in mind that this criminal complaint development capped off a flurry of activity from Wednesday through Friday. First, on Wednesday, Hardin issued a statement that included direct quotes from 18 named massage therapists who'd worked with Watson, and all said that he was courteous and professional. These women also collectively displayed great shock that Watson was being accused of the activities cited in the lawsuits.

Next, on Thursday, Hardin issued a statement where he appeared to be disgusted with Buzbee's contention that he will not bring the accusations to HPD out fo fear that the presence of Hardin's son on the police force might taint an investigation. At least, that's what Buzbee seemed to imply. Then came the criminal complaint Friday, so that third Watson battlefront is now engaged and investigating the star quarterback of the local team.

What about the other two battlefronts — the NFL and Buzbee? Well, the NFL issued about as innocuous a statement as they could, within minutes of the criminal investigation being announced:
That NFL statement is about as close to "silence" as you can get, and I suppose it's understandable, given that a suspension, possibly a long one, is still in play for Watson. Buzbee, on the other hand, rarely veers toward silence. His reaction to the latest Watson news was far more detailed and opinion-laden:
So we learned, from Buzbee, that indeed this criminal complaint was not filed by him, so for now, he is following through on his statement from last week to steer clear of turning evidence over to HPD. Also, we learned, more importantly, that Civil Lawsuit Number 22 is on its way.

"When will this end?" has been everybody's big question since the first barrage of civil lawsuit against Watson, but with HPD now involved, it's far more relevant to ask "How does this end?"

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast