Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson officially denied on Monday the accusations of 22 women who claim to have engaged in sexual misconduct against them during massage therapy sessions, accusing the women in a civil lawsuit of fabricating their stories for money.
According to the record, which deals with the 22 complaints against Watson, “These lawsuits are filled with distortions of Mr. Watson’s conduct. These range from being deceptive, fraudulent or slanderous. “
Watson only received the names of all of his accusers last week, after lawsuits were filed against him anonymously from mid-March. Two of her accusers self-identified in April, and judges that month ruled that women suing Watson must self-identify, according to state law.
Since then, Watson and his lawyers have made efforts to investigate the accusers and their allegations, and said in the court file that they had uncovered evidence that “many of the allegations in this business assault are simply not not true or correct ”. Refuting some of the allegations, the record indicates that eight of the women who complained boasted of having massaged Watson and seven “willingly worked or offered to work” with Watson after the alleged misconduct occurred, including one. woman who showed up at his house to give him another massage before he even made an appointment with her.
The record also claimed that some complainants told others they wanted to “take money” from Watson, that some of the accusers lied about being traumatized by the conduct of which Watson was accused, and that some had cleaned up or deleted their social media accounts, eliminating evidence. Watson would need to mount an appropriate defense.
“I really believe this is a grab for money from a wealthy athlete,” Rusty Hardin, Watson’s senior lawyer, said in a telephone interview on Monday. “If you ask, ‘Are you saying all 22 are lying about having sexually abused? I am of course.
Hardin told an April 9 press conference that there had been “consensual encounters” between Watson and his accusers.
Tony Buzbee, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement Monday that Watson’s response to the charges did nothing to help his case. He called Watson’s “weak and vague” allegations against his accusers in Monday’s court record “patently false.”
“As expected and despite previous statements by his lawyer, Deshaun Watson’s only defense is to call these brave women liars,” Buzbee said.
Filing the case in court on Monday is just one step in a long legal process that could take months, or even more than a year, to complete. The lawsuits accused Watson, 25, of engaging in lewd behavior with women he hired through social media platforms to give him massages this year and last. The allegations accuse him of exposing himself during massages, moving his body in a way that his massage therapists have his penis touched, or forcing women to touch him sexually. In two of the cases, the women say he forced them to have oral sex.
At least one other massage therapist who had not brought a lawsuit against Watson publicly accused her of similar behavior, although she did not hire Buzbee to represent her. She told Sports Illustrated at the end of March that she was considering legal action.
The court document filed Monday says one of the two plaintiffs who accused Watson of forced sex “sought to blackmail” Watson before prosecuting him.
“She asked him to pay her $ 30,000 for ‘indefinite silence’ because her meeting would be ’embarrassing’ if revealed,” the court record of one accuser said.
This complainant also asked Watson’s chief marketing officer for a copy of the nondisclosure agreement she and Watson had signed “because she didn’t want people in her industry to know she had sex. oral to her massage client, ”the record says, adding that Watson has a recording of a phone call of a conversation in which she discusses her concerns.
Hardin, in Monday’s court document, called for a jury trial. He later explained that a lawsuit might be the only way for the public to weigh all the evidence and rightly decide what happened between Watson and the women he hired to massage him.
“I have every confidence that if there is a jury trial someday, a jury will find each of these charges false,” Hardin said. “But if we have to go to court, it’s a long way off.”