Unlike Rodgers and Wilson, very little about Deshaun Watson's journey has been about football for the last year. Instead, his battles have been of the legal variety, both civil and criminal, for alleged sexual misconduct, and on Tuesday afternoon, we learned that the criminal side of things is going to reach a critical point on Friday of this week. Courtesy of Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network:
It was nearly a year ago when we were all made aware of the first civil case filed against Watson, reported on March 16 of last year, to be exact. That civil case, and Watson's camp's cavalier reaction to it, led to the filing of a total of 22 civil lawsuits from various massage therapists for Watson's alleged sexual misconduct, which then sparked the criminal investigation that is coming to a head on Friday.
Hardin told me he’s doing what any attorney would and “I’m not going to allow him to testify (in the civil cases) until the grand jury completes its investigation.”— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 8, 2022
The 22 women are represented by local attorney Tony Buzbee, and according to a report from Jenny Vrentas and Juliet Macur of the New York Times, several of the women who have filed criminal complaints against Watson have received subpoenas to testify this Friday. The NFL's league year and free agency begins next Wednesday, something Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, acknowledged to the Times:
“The free agency time is around the corner and we’ve wanted this decision to be made by then and it looks like they’re going to and I’m welcoming it. There’s never been any crime here, no matter if you call it indecent assault or anything else. These are civil matters that belong in the civil courts.”Coincidentally, Watson is scheduled to be deposed for the first time on the same day as the grand jury presentation, on Friday. The only cases in which Watson is scheduled to be deposed imminently are for the nine women who have themselves been deposed AND have not filed criminal charges against Watson. Hardin informed the Times that Watson will invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege when testifying at Friday's deposition, which will be conducted by Buzbee.
As outlined above, Hardin's request to delay Watson's deposition until Monday was denied, so Watson's pleading the Fifth Amendment while the criminal cases remain open is being done to prevent Watson from saying anything that can be used by prosecutors in the criminal realm. Until the grand jury rules on the evidence, the possibility of criminal charges being brought against Watson exists, and thus, the Fifth Amendment is the prudent approach.
The bottom line is that, after months of inertia, we are on the cusp of perhaps the most major swing of this saga so far, as we should know within a matter of a few days whether Watson is being charged criminally. Charges will mean that this whole story could be headed to a dark place, with prison time a possibility. No charges means that the Texans may finally be able to pull off the long awaited trade involving their franchise quarterback.
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