Editors’ note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson could be facing two more lawsuits in the coming days, bringing the total count up to 26 active civil lawsuits.
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing the 24 women with active lawsuits against Deshaun Watson alleging sexual misconduct, said that he expects his law firm to file a 25th lawsuit against the Browns quarterback “in due course,” as first reported by KPRC 2 in Houston Monday.
According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the lawsuit was referred to Buzbee by an Atlanta-based attorney.
Buzbee also said that the firm has been contacted by a 26th woman who watched Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes, two of the other plaintiffs, give their first national TV interviews with HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel and “was compelled to come forward,” per Jones.
Watson is facing 24 active civil lawsuits filed by massage therapists, each detailing graphic accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. The accounts range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitals to the quarterback “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.”
Up until May 31, Watson faced 22 suits, but two more lawsuits were filed in the span of that week. The 23rd suit cited HBO’s segment on the quarterback as a reason for the filing, specifically referring to a comment Watson made about having “no regrets.”
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Watson previously faced multiple criminal complaints but is no longer facing charges following two separate grand jury hearings. A Harris County grand jury returned nine “no” decisions on nine criminal complaints against Watson in March and a county prosecutor said that the decision concluded criminal proceedings against him in that county. On March 24, a grand jury in Brazoria County declined to charge Watson on a 10th count.
On June 7, The New York Times’ Jenny Vrentas reported that Watson booked massage therapy sessions with at least 66 women over the span of 17 months. The report also found that a Houston-based spa and the Texans “enabled” his massage habit and that the franchise provided facilities and nondisclosure agreements for his sessions.
The explosive article also found that the quarterback’s lawyer and the prosecutors at the district attorney’s office on the criminal cases had extensive contact leading up to the two grand juries.
Despite the lawsuits, Watson signed a record-breaking five-year contract worth a guaranteed $230 million with the Browns this offseason. During his introductory press conference with Cleveland in March, he denied assaulting, harassing or disrespecting any woman.
The league is currently investigating Watson, with commissioner Roger Goodell saying in late May that the league is “nearing the end of the investigation.” No timeline was provided on when the disciplinary officer would issue a ruling, but June 30 is considered to be an important date in the process as it is the deadline for pretrial discovery in the 24 active civil lawsuits the quarterback is facing.
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