Texans QB Deshaun Watson now has 13 accusers – here’s everything you need to know
The embattled quarterback is accused of improper conduct and sexual assault during a series of massages
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson now has t13 accusers, according to multiple reports. The Georgia-born quarterback is facing allegations in 13 civil lawsuits that he hired several different masseuses and then sexually assaulted or acted inappropriately toward them in 2020 and as recently as earlier this month, per ESPN.com.
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing what is now 13 accusers, began last week with several women who were filing civil lawsuits against the Texans player but has now escalated into a situation that may include criminal indictments. Buzbee says he is preparing evidence for the Houston police department and that there are ten more women that he is vetting.
“The case isn’t about money, and it certainly is not about seeking publicity or fame,” Buzbee said at a press conference. “I personally don’t need it, and these women don’t want it. This case is about female empowerment, taking the power back.”
The NFL has confirmed that they’ve opened an investigation into the quarterback to see if he’s violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
Watson first responded to the allegations on social media, saying that he’d been approached by Buzbee for a six-figure settlement that he’d rejected.
“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 on the post on March 18 once the initial allegations surfaced.
“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. Unlike him, this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”
Since then, his usually active social media account, which has over 1.5M followers, has gone quiet. Watson’s girlfriend, popular YouTube and Instagram influencer Jilly Anais, a brand ambassador for Fenty Savage, has also gone mostly quiet outside of a few recent posts that may be part of her contract with the brand. Both have limited comments on existing posts.
Just a few weeks ago, the couple posted together from a lavish vacation. Watson’s last posts were about a charity food drive his foundation hosted in his hometown of Gainesville, Georgia last month.
Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has called the allegations ‘meritless’ but has not yet responded to the specific cases.
Watson, 25, was viewed as one of the league’s preeminent quarterbacks after one of his best statistical years as a pro last season.
That’s despite the Houston Texans organization becoming known more for its dysfunction than its Super Bowl potential after trading away one of the league’s most talented receivers, DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals last year for little to nothing, then firing coach Bill O’Brien in the middle of last season when the team went 4-12, losing its first four games in a row.
In September of 2020, Watson signed a contract with the Texans for $177.5 M, second only to Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes as the richest contract in NFL history. But things took a turn when Watson, per multiple reports, asked to be kept abreast of the Texans’ plans for hiring a coach and GM to replace O’Brien who had acted as coach and GM since 2019.
However, according to multiple reports, Watson’s disenchantment with the team began when he was not consulted on the hirings of coach David Culley and former Patriots GM Nick Caserio as GM. After that, Watson demanded a trade. Texans owner Janice McNair’s son, Cal McNair the team’s chairman who primarily runs the franchise, maintained as late as last month that they were not going to trade Watson.
Buzbee, notes the New York Times, unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Houston in 2019, lives on the same street as Cal McNair in an upscale Houston neighborhood but told media at a press conference he doesn’t know him and wouldn’t recognize him.
Now here we are. Despite conspiracy theories about the impasse between player and team, and speculation that it may have led the team to “smear” Watson’s name, multiple sexual assault allegations are serious and significant. While any individual has the right to defend themselves, that multiple allegations exist in the first place is extremely concerning.
Criminal and civil allegations can and have led to player suspensions and/or being put on the NFL commissioner’s exempt list, which is basically a paid suspension until cases are resolved. Allegations can also lead to the voiding of a player’s contract under the NFL’s conduct policy. As the policy states, you don’t have to be convicted of a crime to be disciplined, up to and including, being banned from the league.
As the policy reads:
Players convicted of a crime are subject to a disposition of a criminal proceeding (as defined in this Policy) are subject to discipline. But even if the conduct does not result in a criminal conviction, players found to have engaged in any of the following conduct will be subject to discipline.
Prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to the following: Actual or threatened physical violence against another person, including dating violence, domestic violence, child abuse, and other forms of family violence; Assault and/or battery, including sexual assault or other sex offenses.
Despite the allegations, the league’s dearth of quality quarterbacks means some teams are still willing to take the risk. Reportedly, as of yesterday, at least six teams are still interested in a trade for Watson.
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