Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns quarterback, has reached settlements with 20 of the 24 ladies who’ve filed sexual misconduct lawsuits in opposition to him, the lawyer Tony Buzbee introduced Tuesday morning. In an announcement, Buzbee, who represents Watson’s accusers, stated that the phrases and quantities of the settlements have been confidential and that these circumstances can be dismissed as soon as finalized.
Reached by cellphone, Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, stated he had no remark however didn’t deny settlements had been reached.
The primary public allegation in opposition to Watson of sexual misconduct throughout a therapeutic massage appointment was made in March 2021, leading to an avalanche of lawsuits filed by further ladies. Buzbee stated that Ashley Solis, who filed the preliminary lawsuit, was one of many 4 ladies who had not settled.
The claims in opposition to Watson concerned therapeutic massage appointments he had in 2020 and early 2021, when he performed for the Houston Texans. He was traded to Cleveland in March after a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, declined to indict him on felony prices. The Browns gave Watson an unprecedented, absolutely assured five-year, $230 million contract.
However Watson has confronted further stress in latest weeks, with two new ladies submitting lawsuits in opposition to him. Buzbee additionally stated that he deliberate so as to add the Texans as a defendant after a New York Occasions investigation confirmed that the staff supplied the venue Watson used for among the therapeutic massage appointments and furnished him with a nondisclosure settlement. Buzbee stated Tuesday that the Texans weren’t a celebration to the settlements.
Deshaun Watson’s Troubling Habits
The Cleveland Browns quarterback has been accused of harassment and assault by a rising checklist of feminine therapeutic massage therapists.
Watson and his accusers had beforehand entered into settlement negotiations earlier than the N.F.L. commerce deadline final November. In keeping with Hardin, one staff, the Miami Dolphins, wouldn’t transfer ahead with a possible commerce till all of the civil fits in opposition to Watson have been resolved. In a latest court docket submitting, Buzbee stated that Watson’s representatives supplied every lady $100,000 to settle however not the entire ladies agreed due to what he characterised as an “aggressive nondisclosure settlement.”
Requested in a information convention throughout Browns minicamp final week if he was open to settling the civil circumstances, Watson stated he wished to “clear my identify and have the ability to let the information and the authorized procedures proceed to play out.” He additionally stated once more that he had “by no means pressured” anybody into sexual exercise. By way of his attorneys, Watson acknowledged having sexual contact with three of the ladies who sued him however claimed it was consensual and initiated by the ladies after the therapeutic massage ended.
The settlements come because the N.F.L. is contemplating self-discipline for Watson below its private conduct coverage. League investigators spent 4 days interviewing Watson inside the final 5 weeks, Hardin has stated, which is mostly one of many closing steps within the course of. The N.F.L. spokesman Brian McCarthy stated that the settlements had “no affect on the collectively bargained disciplinary course of.”
Buzbee referred to Solis as “one of many heroes of this story.” In her lawsuit, Solis stated that Watson purposely touched her hand along with his uncovered and erect penis throughout a March 2020 therapeutic massage appointment. Watson admitted in a deposition that Solis had turn out to be “teary-eyed,” and after he left, he apologized over textual content for her feeling “uncomfortable.” Solis reached out to trade colleagues in addition to attorneys for recommendation on how to reply to what had occurred, and in December 2020, she was linked with Buzbee’s regulation agency.
“With out Ashley Solis, the conduct skilled by these ladies would doubtless have continued unfettered,” Buzbee stated in his assertion. He added that he seems to be ahead to making an attempt the circumstances of Solis and the three different ladies who haven’t settled “sooner or later.”
The Occasions’s investigation confirmed that Watson engaged in additional questionable conduct than was beforehand recognized, extending past the claims made by the 24 ladies who filed lawsuits: He booked appointments with not less than 66 totally different ladies within the 17 months from fall 2019 by spring 2021. A number of of those further ladies, talking publicly for the primary time, described experiences that undercut Watson’s insistence that he was solely in search of skilled therapeutic massage remedy.
The Occasions’s reporting additionally discovered that within the two months main as much as the Harris County grand jury’s contemplating of the circumstances in opposition to Watson, Hardin started a daily dialogue with Johna Stallings, the intercourse crimes prosecutor dealing with the investigation. In January, Stallings got here to Hardin’s workplace for a gathering through which Hardin stated he and his staff “made a presentation reflecting the deposition testimony and proof relating to every of the felony complainants.”