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Will there be any criminal complaints filed against Deshaun Watson?

Maybe? It all depends on what Tony Buzbee means, and Lord only knows about that.

In his latest Instagram post about the sexual assault allegations against Deshaun Watson, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said Tuesday that he plans to take evidence of the assaults to an investigating agency outside the Houston Police Department.

Buzbee has filed 19 lawsuits on behalf of women who said Watson sexually assaulted or harassed them during massage sessions in 2020 and 2021.

In Buzbee’s post, published around 9 p.m., the attorney said he was initially reluctant to provide information about the alleged crimes, citing his 2019 mayoral bid in which he called for then-Police Chief Art Acevedo’s resignation.

Acevedo recently took a job as police chief of the Miami Police Department. Buzbee, however, said he has since discovered that Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has a son “who is on of (sic) the exclusive Command Staff of HPD.”

“I am not saying in any way that Deshaun Watson’s lawyer, Mr. Hardin, has a son who has a position that would compromise HPD and its investigation,” Buzbee wrote. “I support his service, along with all Houston police officers—I think the rank and file know that. But, I am saying that me and my clients will go elsewhere to provide our evidence to investigative authorities. Stand by.”

Buzbee said his legal team has been “roundly criticized” for not filing formal complaints with the Houston Police Department. He said the team has “provided info to other organizations” but did not elaborate in the post.

What “other organizations” might those be? Who knows. I’m not going to try to interpret the musings from Tony Buzbee’s galaxy brain. He’s got a strategy and he’s clearly got evidence to back him up – see Sean Pendergast’s analysis of the five most damaging allegations against Watson for an appraisal of that – and he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. At some point, we’ll see what the endgame that Buzbee has in mind is. In the meantime, the lawsuit count is up to 21. And as of Wednesday, we now have this.

In a concerted attempt to paint Watson in a more favorable light, Watson’s defense released statements Wednesday from 18 women who “are deeply troubled by the accusations” made against Watson and who believe the allegations are “wholly inconsistent with their experiences with him and who they believe him to be.” All 18 women who released statements Wednesday supporting Watson made their identities public.

Watson’s defense attorney Rusty Hardin said these women who have spoken out on Watson’s behalf have collectively worked with the Texans star “more than 130 times over the past five years.”

“These statements show the other side to this story that has been so lacking in the flurry of anonymous complaints filed by opposing counsel,” Hardin said. It’s the most vigorous attempt from Hardin yet to defend Watson, and comes after Hardin claimed last week that at least one of Watson’s accusers had privately attempted to blackmail the quarterback into paying her to keep quiet about what happened during their massage appointment.

Several therapists are quoted, and you can go read what they have to say if you wish. I get where this is coming from – whatever ultimately happens with the allegations and lawsuits, Watson’s reputation has taken a big hit, so some of this is an attempt to mitigate that damage – but the old-school “well, he never did anything untoward around me” defense is, at best, not on point. I would hope by now that we have internalized the idea that a person can behave differently in different contexts and around different people. It’s dangerously close to victim-blaming, and that’s a road we should want to avoid.

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  1. Kibitzer says:

    More red meat for armchair attorneys:

    Since when does a complainant/victim of crime need an attorney to call the police to report the crime (or potential/alleged crime), not to mention a Tony Buzbee? Why did the plaintiffs not call the police, whether at the time of the incident to be made the subject of prosecution, or thereafter?

    How would it be proper for Tony Buzbee to decide on behalf of his client to present or not present a criminal complaint based on Buzbee’s own personal political considerations concerning the particular local Police Chief? Wouldn’t that put in question his ability to comply with his professional obligations to the client(s)?

    Also, couldn’t Buzbee just go the the District Attorney to present any relevant “information” if in good faith, and in his judgment as an attorney, legally warranted? But, if he did so, would that be proper in light of his personal/professional stake in pursuing the civil complaints on behalf of the same persons, presumably on a contingent-fee basis? Would that raise an issue of invoking/using the criminal justice system to procure an advantage in civil litigation?

    As for the defense, wouldn’t it be an advantage if at least one criminal case were initiated, assuming that would provide a legitimate basis to seek an abatement of the civil cases in the interim?

    Re: “I would hope by now that we have internalized the idea that a person can behave differently in different contexts and around different people.”

    Sure, but this is all about litigating character and presumed guilt away from the courthouse and outside the reach of the rules. So materiality and admissibility of factual representations don’t matter, and there is no opportunity for examination/cross-examination, at least not yet.

    — Anything goes. Or so it would seem.

    Alas, we have apparently now internalized the idea that cases get tried on social and traditional media, with civil courts serving as publishing venue for allegation that conveniently enjoy judicial proceedings privilege (even as to perjury, apparently) and don’t ever have to be proven, or even tried, if cases are settled or otherwise dismissed.

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    He is still innocent until proven guilty, and it is up to the jury to decide if he has done an unwanted gender reveal.

  3. Marc says:

    As someone who litigates complaints against professional licensees with state agencies, I will point out that there is a wildly different level of proof necessary in the criminal context. Beyond a reasonable doubt, the standard in criminal court, is a much higher level than the preponderance of the evidence standard in civil court. I’ve handled several cases of alleged sexual assault that were not prosecuted by the criminal justice system because the evidence was lacking for beyond a reasonable doubt, but yet still caused the licensee to lose their license, even with weak and contradictory evidence.