On March 16 and 17, Houston-based lawyer Tony Buzbee filed three civil lawsuits accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of inappropriate conduct and sexual Jpattern of preying on “vulnerable women,” according to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop.
Since then, the lawsuits, of which the alleged behavior is denied by Watson, have risen to a total of 22 as of April 11. These lawsuits have accused Watson of a wide range of inappropriate behavior, including inappropriate touching and forced oral sex.
The first lawsuits stemmed from an incident dating back to March 2020 involving massage therapists that Watson had used. They allege that he threatened the massage therapists to stay quiet about it afterwards, according to Sporting News’ Jordan Greer. After those lawsuits, many more along similar lines came in.
April 2 saw the 22nd and most recent lawsuit filed. Though none of the previous lawsuits had involved the police, a complaint was filed that day to the Houston Police Department, and they announced on Twitter that they were now launching an official investigation into Watson.
Fourteen of the lawsuits had been filed under the name “Jane Doe” to protect their identities. However, Watson’s legal team challenged this, and the judge ruled that the women need to identify themselves in order to give Watson and his defense team a fair shot.
The NFL also opened an investigation into Watson on March 19, NFL special counsel for investigation’s Lisa Friel wrote in a letter to Buzbee. There is currently no progress made on these investigations, nor have any more allegations been made.
According to Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel, Watson and his legal team have yet to find a defense that explains away the mounting allegations. They’ve pointed to Watson’s “good guy” reputation. They have also admitted that some of the encounters with massage therapists involved sexual acts, but that they were consensual and in other incidences he didn’t push for sex, even though it had happened in other scenarios. They’ve also tried to somewhat disparage the plaintiff’s lawyer, calling him a “clown and a jerk” according to Wetzel.
Wetzel then says that, “If Hardin [Watson’s lawyer] is going to win this one, then it will require some incredible legal needle threading, because Nos. 1 and 3 don’t matter, and No. 2 doesn’t make any sense.”
Watson has since been dropped by some major endorsements and sponsors. As of last week, Watson’s endorsement deals have been suspended by Nike, Beats by Dre and Reliant Energy. It’s very possible that more are coming as this case continues to play out. Whether Watson will face criminal charges or settle out of court or just flat out beat these allegations remains to be seen. How it will affect his football career also remains to be seen.