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Lawsuit filed against Deshaun Watson

This is super ugly.

A licensed massage therapist has accused Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault.

Prominent lawyer Tony Buzbee, a former Houston mayoral candidate, filed the lawsuit late Tuesday. He first shared brief information in a post on Instagram, saying the litigation was “about dignity and stopping behavior that should be stopped.”

The massage therapist, identified as Jane Doe, said she had never met Watson before or dealt with any members of the Texans organization. She received a direct message from the Pro Bowl quarterback on Instagram on March 28, 2020, she said.

[…]

Watson responded to the claims, in which the masseuse alleges Watson touched her inappropriately during a massage session at her home in March 2020.

“As a result of a social media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff’s lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me,” Watson said in his response. “I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect. The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected.”

The statement went on to say that “this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”

Prominent Houston defense attorney Rusty Hardin is representing Watson in the lawsuit, he confirmed. Hardin, who has represented other athletes such as Roger Clemens, was not available for comment Wednesday.

The Texans on Wednesday morning issued a separate statement addressing the allegations.

“We became aware of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post last night,” the statement reads. “This is the first time we heard of the matter, and we hope to learn more soon. We take accusations of this nature that involve anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We will await further information before making any additional statements on this incident.”

An NFL spokesman said “We are aware of the suit, but will decline further comment at this time.”

I skipped the details, in which the massage therapist alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Watson. You can read it in the story and in the lawsuit, which is embedded in the story. Watson’s statement is here. There are some claims about Instagram DMs and text messages that should be objectively verifiable. Beyond that, we’ll have to see what happens. Sean Pendergast has more.

UPDATE: Now there are two accusers. This is getting worse.

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9 Comments

  1. Ross says:

    We’ll see what happens, but since Buzbee is a publicity seeker of the worst sort, I am skeptical that this is anything but an effort by him to keep his name out in front of the public.

    I do like the conspiracy theory that since Buzbee and Cal McNair live within a block of each other, this is an effort to make Watson stay in Houston by making him unattractive to other teams, or to allow the Texans to use a morality clause to terminate his contract.

  2. Flypusher says:

    Don’t know enough about Watson as a person to gauge these accusations at this point. But as Kuff says, certain things will be verifiable. The court battle, if it happens, will be epic.

    In the Watson vs the Texans squabble, I sympathize with Watson for the sole reason of the Texans front office being so gawdawful incompetent, stupid, and dishonest. The Hopkins trade is a prime example. Now the big strike against Watson is that he signed the extension after that bone-headed trade. I’d like to know his reasoning, given that Hopkins was his favorite target and BFF, and the trade blindsided him too. But since then, the Texans doubled down on the stupid by restructuring the contract of the running back they got (who made such an impact that I cannot even recall his name off the top of my head) instead of cutting him. But cutting him would be an admission of error. Inability to admit error is one of the major hallmarks of a boss from hell, and I almost always sympathize with the person wanting to escape the boss from hell.

    Then we have what Watson has said has upset him- the lack of input into the hiring of the new GM/ head coach. It is true that it’s not SOP for a QB, even one as talented as Watson, to have a say. But if you actually promise that, then SOP doesn’t apply anymore. Blatant breaking of specific promises is another hallmark of a boss from hell.

    Circling back to the original topic, these accusations throw a big wrench into the trade dispute. One could say this makes Watson damaged goods, and lowers his trade value. OTOH, given the rumors that Hopkins had to go because of holy-roller Easterby’s disapproval of his personal life, you could argue that Watson doesn’t fit this moral tone Easterby seems to want to set.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    Ross, the conspiracy theory is unlikely if they offered a settlement, which could have hushed up the entire dispute if accepted. The Texans might consider themselves lucky if Watson wants to leave, because they are one of the most moral teams in the league.

    Many big time NFL QBs have had similar allegations, with no repercussions to their careers, Ben Roethlisberger for one. He was suspended for two or three games. Peyton Manning allegedly assaulted a masseuse or physical therapist in college with little consequence.

    OF course Al Gore also attacked a massage therapist and demanded favors from her, and he wasn’t cancelled. Very little news about it at the time.

  4. Mainstream says:

    Jason, I am no ally of Gore, but the police investigated the case, interviewed Gore, interviewed the complainant and the district attorney refused to press any charges. The event was in 2006, the complainant refused to talk to police in 2007, and then returned in 2009 to make a complaint. So your claim that he “attacked” her and “demanded favors” from her is just raw libel and has never been proven, indeed never even charged by any prosecutor.

  5. Flypusher says:

    Lawsuit tally is now up to 7, with reports of more to come.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    I actually read the first 7 page complaint all the way through. So Watson was inappropriate with the massage therapist, she was frightened and complied, then they allowed him back again more times? Yeah, no, that’s BS. Unless there’s actual video of Watson being inappropriate and the women saying no, I don’t believe any of it.

    The era of pound me too and believe all wahmen is over. I automatically do NOT believe the womxn. Show me video with audio of the women screaming NO, and I’ll believe them. This? Sorry.

    Having said that, I really don’t care what happens to the racist Watson. If the women win, more power to them. I don’t mind seeing a racist wrongfully convicted and having to pay out. It’s just mildly entertaining to see the left eating each other.

  7. Lobo says:

    HAVE WE NO SHAME OR REGARD FOR PRIVACY?

    Folks:

    While I have no opinion yet — and will reserve judgment on — the specific constellation of alleged facts and the growing roll of accusation-makers, permit me nevertheless to make a political point here. After all, that’s a thing these days irrespective of whether material facts are firmly established.

    Come to think of it … it’s more a point about public policy (as distinct from politics as such), and our storied right to privacy.

    Specifically, how these things get treated in the proverbial court house square, and — even more importantly — by the clerk inside, in the ordinary course of the administration of justice.

    Not to mention the matter of attorneys whetting the appetite of the low-brow press and sundry online media with salacious pre-filing teasers, tweets, and press releases; – dispatched and timed for maximum damaging effect.

    ON HOMO ERECTUS / FACCIDUS & THE FILING OF LAWSUITS APPERTAINING THERETO

    As a general proposition, I find it objectionable for adult plaintiffs to be allowed to sue as Jane or John Doe, hiding behind a big shot lawyer — and for big dough, no doubt, with accompanying denials of such pecuniary motivations — while the defendant is of course named, and the whole thing becomes a media spectacle.

    Suppose I am a physiological male (or a chromosomal female with external male genitalia) and I suffer from phimosis issues that were either caused or not corrected by ritualistic post-partum genital snippetting.

    You would think that my private pain should remain private, right, if the matter ends up in court, but NO. If I have to sue my urologist or surgeon because he or she mangled my private part while purportedly correcting the problem impeding noncriminal conversation (consortium with my spouse), the court opinion will be out there for all the whole world to behold, with the names of the dramatis personae prominently featured at the top: Case style. And with bad luck, there might even be a published case for the Southwestern Reporter.

    Don’t take my sympathetic lament as off-the-wall troll material. Just look up Cause No. 14-19-00950-CV, handed down by our very own Chief Christopher this January. I am not citing the case by name, lest I become co-guilty of that which I condemn: Lack of respect for privacy and disclosure of identities along with intimate facts.

    Also get this from the head-scratching department: The plaintiff/patient’s DOB in the referenced med-mal case was redacted in the appellate opinion, but not his and his wife’s first and last names. – Go figure.

    SUING ANONYMOUSLY

    Circling back to the predicate serial news items: Why does the massage provider get to sue anonymously, but the couple that suffered at the hands of another type of service provider – as exemplified by the appellate opinion above – does not?

    And in anticipated response to those who would counter on apples-vs-oranges grounds, why should both parties not be required to proceed under a pseudonym in sensitive cases involving sexual organs or sexual conduct and alleged misconduct? Such a regime could be implemented without limiting the public’s access to court records, and would not require a case-specific sealing order.

    Such an approach would protect both parties in the civil dispute, at least as long as the facts are nothing but allegations. Allegations can do much harm, especially if allegations were to proven false (which will not always be possible even if they are false), or if there is insufficient evidentiary support for them to meet the more relaxed standard of proof in a civil case.

    Pleaded facts are not the same as evidence — contrary popularized notions notwithstanding — and evidence is generally not required to support a tort claim unless immediate injunctive relief is sought. (Med-mal claims, however, require an expert report, so there are variations depending on the nature of the claim even if the privacy interest at stake a kindred).

    But even when the veracity of pleaded facts is not in question, or perhaps not even disputed, such as in a health-care-liability case used as an illustration above, there may *still* be very good and compelling reasons to protect the privacy of the parties. And divorce cases and SAPCRs are already treated as sensitive and worthy of more restrictive court-records access policies, so it’s not like there isn’t already existing precedent for sensitive matters in litigation.

  8. […] here for the background. As before, the story contains graphic details that I’d rather not […]

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