The tidal wave of sexual misconduct accusations against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson continued Monday night as an additional woman sued Watson for allegedly assaulting her during a private massage.
Fourteen women have now sued Watson over similar incidents during encounters with him. In all of the suits filed so far, the plaintiffs allege that Watson acted inappropriately during massage sessions, and in many instances touched them with his penis against their will. One woman described in detail how Watson allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him during a private appointment.
As with the previous suits, this latest was filed by local attorney and former mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee. On Friday, Buzbee said that at least 22 women had reached out to him to detail similar allegations of misconduct against Watson, and that additional lawsuits would be forthcoming as his team investigated those claims.
In the latest suit, which was filed late Monday evening and became public Tuesday, a massage therapist from California claims that Watson reached out via an Instagram message to request an in-home massage while Watson would be visiting Beverly Hills on July 15, 2020.
Once the woman arrived at the home Watson was renting and entered the room where he wanted the massage, she claims he locked the door behind him, which prompted her to get out a can of mace. “Watson saw the mace and chuckled but did not say anything,” the suit reads.
The lawsuit claims that Watson eventually turned over during the massage and had an erection, and that he later removed the towel, exposing himself to the plaintiff.
“At this point, Watson grabbed Plaintiff’s hands and moved his penis and genitals towards her hand and forced Plaintiff’s hand onto his penis, to get her to pleasure him. He also kept directing her to his butt hole,” the lawsuit reads.
Once the massage was over, the woman claims Watson told her “I will not have you sign a NDA [non-disclosure agreement] but don’t ever talk about this.”
Late Sunday night, Buzbee wrote in an Instagram post that his team had collected “affidavits and evidence from several women” which he would submit to the Houston Police Department and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg by Monday morning.
Watson forcefully denied the first accusation made against him last week, but hasn’t spoken about any of the avalanche of assault allegations that have surfaced since March 16.
Rusty Hardin, the prominent local defense attorney representing Watson, issued a statement on March 19 defending Watson against what he believes “are meritless allegations,” and said that a more detailed response would come from Watson’s legal team this week.
A spokesperson for Hardin’s office told the Houston Press Monday night that Hardin didn’t have anything to add beyond his previous statement at that time.
Update 4:08 p.m.:
Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin issued a statement Tuesday afternoon discussing the wave of lawsuits against his client at length for the first time.
“It takes courage for women to come forward to report being mistreated, particularly when they attach their names to a lawsuit. We do not take these allegations lightly,” Hardin wrote.
“However,” he continued, “fairness to the accused is equally as important.
Hardin then criticized Buzbee for not privately sharing with him the names of the fourteen women who have anonymously sued Watson over claims of sexual misconduct, which he said has made “uncovering the truth extremely difficult.”
“Anonymity is often necessary as a shield for victims,” Hardin wrote, “but opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun before the truth-seeking process can even begin.”
“I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false,” Hardin wrote, a targeted defense of his client that seemingly didn’t reference multiple accusations that Watson touched women with his penis against their will.
Hardin then claimed that Watson’s legal team has only been able to identify the anonymous plaintiff in one specific lawsuit: the suit filed the night of March 17 alleging that Watson forced the plaintiff to perform oral sex on him. Citing a sworn affidavit from Bryan Burney, Watson’s marketing manager, Hardin wrote that “we have strong evidence showing the allegation is false.”
According to Burney, this specific woman “attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her ‘indefinite silence’ about what she stated was a consensual encounter.”
Burney claimed that in mid-January 2021, the woman in question and a man who said he was her business manager each called Burney and said “that she would need to be paid for her ‘silence.’’’ Both individuals asked for $30,000 in exchange for not publicly sharing anything “about her encounter with Deshaun,” Burney claimed, and said that he nor Watson made any payment to either individual.
Hardin wrote that Burney’s story about this alleged blackmail attempt “calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well,” but did not reference any other lawsuit or accusation levied against Watson in recent days.
He also claimed that his legal team has received “numerous unsolicited comments” from other massage therapists who have worked with Watson, all of whom supposedly described him “as a gentleman and a model client.”
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