Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson apologized Friday “to all the women I’ve touched” after being accused by two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.
Watson, who faces a potential one-year suspension from the NFL, spoke before the Cleveland Expo opened in Jacksonville — his first game since Jan. 3, 2021, with the Houston Texans.
Watson was suspended six games earlier this month by independent umpire Sue L. Robinson, who found he violated the league’s personal conduct policy with “flagrant” and “predatory” behavior.
As part of her ruling, the retired federal judge noted Watson’s lack of remorse.
Watson was asked in a pre-match television interview for his response to Robinson’s stance that he was uncontested.
“Listen, I want to say I’m so sorry for all the women I’ve touched in this situation,” Watson said in the interview. “The decisions I made in my life that put me in this position, I would really like to have them back, but I want to keep moving forward, growing, learning and showing that I am a real person of character. and I will keep moving forward.
Watson has been accused of harassing or sexually assaulting the women during therapy sessions in 2020 and 2021. He has consistently denied wrongdoing, and grand juries in two Texas counties have declined to indict him on criminal charges.
The three-time Pro Bowler has settled 23 of 24 civil lawsuits.
However, he still faces league discipline, which has appealed Robinson’s penalty and is asking for a season-long ban as well as a hefty fine of over $5 million and for Watson to undergo an evaluation. and treatment before they can be reinstated.
The call is now with Peter C. Harvey, a former New Jersey Attorney General appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
There is no timeline on Harvey’s decision. It is also possible that the parties will reach a settlement. On Thursday, a person familiar with Watson’s defense told AP the 26-year-old would accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the high-profile case.
Watson continued to train and was thrilled to make his debut for Cleveland, which traded three first-round picks to Houston for him in March and signed him to a five-year, $230 million deal.
Depending on Harvey’s decision, Watson could be away from the Browns for an extended period. He was asked what kind of personal growth he hoped to achieve.
“I know I have a lot of work to do, especially on the pitch to be able to make sure I’m ready to play whenever that moment comes when I can get back on the pitch,” he said. . “But also, the most important thing is that I want to continue advising and I want to make sure that I grow as a person, as an individual for my decision-making on and off the pitch.
“I want to make sure that I grow in the community as much as possible, and that’s for the Cleveland community, that’s the NFL community and beyond.” ___
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