Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson may sit for depositions related to sexual assault claims
A judge rules that Watson can face questions under oath in some of the 22 civil cases filed against him by women alleging a range of illicit actions.
A judge has ruled that NFL player Deshaun Watson can sit for some of the 22 civil cases filed against him by women who are accusing him of sexual assault.
The Houston Texans quarterback was scheduled to begin depositions as early as this week. However, according to ABC News, his attorney filed a motion last week to delay any depositions until after April 1, which is when the Harris County District Attorney’s office is expected to announce if it plans to pursue criminal charges against Watson.
That motion to delay has been denied, in part.
On Monday, Judge Rabeea Collier ruled that Watson can be questioned under oath in nine of the cases in which the women involved have already been deposed and have not filed a criminal complaint. Eight of Watson’s accusers will have to wait until at least after April 1 to get the quarterback deposed.
Watson could also face criminal charges in several other cases, as the Harris County District Attorney’s office continues to consider that possibility. ABC News is reporting that the D.A.’s office and police officials have declined to comment on the status of the cases.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told reporters after a hearing Monday that “The obligation of the lawyer is to protect the client, and while there is a criminal investigation going on, it is only fair to wait to see whether it results in charges or it doesn’t before deciding whether you’re going to submit somebody for depositions.”
His statement has prompted legal experts to believe that Watson may exercise his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent during the upcoming depositions.
The accusations against Watson began emerging last year. Many of the plaintiffs are massage therapists who allege a range of illicit actions by Watson, including refusing to cover his genitals during appointments and reported forced oral sex. His marketing manager, Brian Burney, testified that his team “provided Watson the nondisclosure agreement that he insisted that many women sign after a massage session.”
Watson remains an active member of the Houston Texans. However, he did not play all season.
The plaintiffs against Watson are being represented by Tony Buzbee, an attorney also representing more than 125 people who were injured in the Astroworld Festival tragedy in November. As previously reported, 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 wrote in a March 18, 2021, Twitter post 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,” he contended. “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.”
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