BEREA, Ohio — Another woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Deshaun Watson, alleging the suspended Cleveland Browns quarterback forced her to perform oral sex during a massage session in 2020.
This is the 26th known lawsuit filed against Watson, accusing him of inappropriate sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massages.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Harris County, Texas, Watson is accused of soliciting the plaintiff on Instagram with a direct message for a massage at a Houstonian hotel room in Texas in December 2020, when he was member of the Texans. The lawsuit says that during the session, Watson “continually pressured [the plaintiff] massaging her private space “before he “removed her towel” and “offered to let her” get on top of it.” oral sex” and “Watson paid [the plaintiff] $300 for his services, although his regular rate was $115 for a one-hour massage.”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff has “suffered from severe depression and anxiety” since the alleged incident.
“My client’s experience with Deshaun Watson follows a troubling series of similar encounters reported by more than 20 women who filed suits against the NFL superstar,” the woman’s attorney, Anissah Nguyen, said. at ESPN. “Like so many others, my client spent nearly two years struggling to come to terms with the shame and trauma of all he stole from her and the daily pain that became her reality.
“Knowing that her story will lead to difficult conversations, criticism and even victim blaming, the strength and bravery of these other women gave my client the courage to stand up and speak out. She is asking for justice not only for herself and her own healing, but for the more than 20 women who refused to be silenced and the victims who have yet to come forward.”
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told ESPN’s John Barr on Friday that he would refrain from commenting on this latest lawsuit until he knows the identity of the plaintiff. In all other civil cases filed against Watson, the court ordered that the plaintiff be identified by name.
Watson settled 23 of the lawsuits against him last summer, but one remains pending, according to plaintiff attorney Tony Buzbee, who also represented the other women who had sued. A lawsuit was dropped after a judge ruled that the plaintiffs should amend their motions to release their names. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not prosecute him.
In July, the Texans reached settlements with 30 women who made or were willing to make claims against the NFL organization for what Buzbee called its alleged “empowerment” of Watson’s behavior. The New York Times reported over the summer that the Texans arranged for Watson to see massage therapists in a Houston hotel room.
Watson is serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy by committing a sexual assault on massage therapists, as defined by the NFL. On August 18, the NFL and the NFL Players Association reached an agreement on Watson’s suspension. He was also fined $5 million and had to go through a mandatory treatment program.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Friday that Watson’s 11-game suspension would remain as is, but he could face more discipline if it turns out he had again violated the league’s code of conduct.
“Watson’s status remains unchanged,” McCarthy said. “We will monitor the progress of the newly filed litigation; and any conduct that warrants further investigation or possible additional penalties would be addressed in the Personal Conduct Policy.”
Two Texas grand juries declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. But Sue L. Robinson, an independent arbitrator appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, concluded that “the NFL has met its burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in an assault sexual”. Robinson also concluded in his report that Watson’s behavior was both “blatant” and “predatory.”
When asked by ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Friday, Nguyen declined to say whether her client had filed any criminal charges. Nguyen said the hope was to depose Watson by the end of the year.
Watson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said people weren’t interested in listening to his side of the story.
“I will continue to stand on my innocence, just because, you know, regulations and things like that don’t mean that a person is guilty of anything,” he said on August 18, after the settlement agreement. “I feel like a person has the opportunity to stand on their innocence and prove that, and we’ve proven that from a legal standpoint, and we’re just going to keep moving forward as individual and as a person.”
Watson was allowed to return to the Browns’ practice facility this week after being banned since Aug. 30 as part of the settlement. He won’t be able to practice with the team again until Nov. 14 and won’t be able to play until Week 13, when the Browns travel to face the Texans in Houston on Dec. 4.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said Friday he had “no comment” on the latest lawsuit against Watson.