FBI involved in Deshaun Watson case

Never a good sign, though there might be a wrinkle in this one.

The FBI is looking into sexual assault allegations against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to opposing legal parties in the player’s civil court cases.

The extent of those probes remains unclear. Defense attorney Rusty Hardin on Wednesday declined to call any federal interest in the sexual assault allegations part of an “investigation,” but he said he knows definitively that one FBI investigation is underway into claims that a woman extorted Watson for money.

The high-profile defense attorney held a 20-minute news conference in direct response to recent statements by his opponent, Tony Buzbee, who said that he spoke to representatives of the federal agency.

Buzbee told the website League of Justice that the FBI appeared interested in Watson’s alleged use of the internet and interstate travel to solicit sessions from massage therapists.

Hardin said he learned Tuesday that the FBI was checking into some claims presented in the 22 civil suits filed earlier this year against Watson. He said he welcomes those federal investigations, but he simultaneously denounced Buzbee for bringing them to the media.

“He wants to leverage his civil lawsuits,” Hardin said. “He knows those lawsuits have no future in the long run. But he wants to be out there and promote himself and the lawsuits and try to get Deshaun to settle them and pay him money so he can ride into the sunset.”

Buzbee, who is representing the women suing the 25-year-old for sexual assault and harassment, denied that any of his clients were being investigated.

“I think Rusty is reaching for straws and that’s kind of silly,” Buzbee said. “God bless him, the FBI, is, not as far as I know, is not investigating the women who have been victimized. They’re investigating Deshaun Watson.”

Buzbee later clarified that he does not know whether there is an official “investigation” into Watson, but that he did speak with federal agents.


Hardin on Wednesday focused on claims that one of those women extorted Watson for money before filing a lawsuit alleging he forced oral sex. He read text messages that appeared to show the woman apologizing for her own behavior during a session.

The attorney said the FBI approached his team in April about those allegations, and Watson later spoke to the bureau about them.

Buzbee said he detected irony in Hardin’s statements about his client.

“He’s doing the best he can do, but it’s kind of sad that he’s turning it around on the women,” he said.

Hard to know what to make of this. I’m loathe to believe any claim Tony Buzbee makes, but I’d say he’s more likely to be right about what the FBI is doing than Rusty Hardin is in this case. But who knows? The FBI said nothing as per their usual policy, and whatever it is they may be doing, they’ll be done when they’re done. So we wait.

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2 Responses to FBI involved in Deshaun Watson case

  1. David Fagan says:

    28 days and counting……..

  2. policywonqueria says:


    Re: “FBI said nothing as per their usual policy”

    That seems like a reasonable policy unless/until there is an indictment, if any.

    So, in the meantime, why is the news media even reporting the non-news when no information is to be had from the FBI? How is it newsworthy that “the extent of those probes remains unclear”? Sounds, much rather, like an admission of ignorance.

    Incidentally, one might ask the same about the FBI investigation of Ken Paxton that the media keeps mentioning, with no particulars and no updates. A federal indictment would be big news, to be sure, but is it news when nothing further has transpired? Does news not age and go stale after months?


    As to the objectivity and reliability of the sources of the unverified and unverifiable factual matter in the Watson litigation, obviously both lawyers have their respective axes to grind. No pro bono publico here, except for the low-brow entertainment and clickbait aspect of it all. Not to mention that there is an attorney ethics rule somewhere about not using the criminal law system and criminal accusations for leverage to advance a client’s position in a civil case. And what about attorneys pre-trying their case in public, bypassing judge and jury? Should the media act as enablers?


    On the premise that there must be fire, or at least embers, where there is smoke — proverbially speaking — shouldn’t the mass mediators and purveyors of rumors at least quote someone with expertise who is *not* involved or otherwise interested in the case so as to enlighten the readership about the jurisdictional basis for FBI involvement under like circumstances?

    In other words, what is *federal* about alleged sexual assault (see Texas Penal Code for definitions of various offenses) and alleged rendition of massage services without a state-issued license (see Chapter 455 of the Texas Occupations Code) https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/OC/htm/OC.455.htm

    An obvious candidate appears to be the employment of electronic communications (perhaps interstate as distinguished from intra) to arrange for purportedly unlicensed or otherwise unlawful hands-on bodily contact sessions. (On the premise that the episodes in question were just regular lawful dates, why would the FBI be interested?). So wouldn’t that imply that there might be persons of interest/suspects on both ends of the wired or wireless line? Given that none of the female plaintiffs are minors?

    Tags: Media standards, reporting, journalistic ethics, fact ascertainability, sex crime coverage

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