June 17, 2024

For the second time in less than a week, Deshaun Watson has been hit with another civil lawsuit after a new case was filed against him on Monday in Texas. 

In the latest lawsuit, a female masseuse claims that things got ugly after she arranged a massage session with Watson in August 2020. According to the lawsuit,  Watson demanded that the woman massage his “inner thighs and quadriceps.” 

As the masseuse started to do that, Watson’s “tone became aggressive as he repeatedly demanded that she go higher and higher into his inner thighs.” The masseuse eventually became uncomfortable with the situation, which included Watson touching himself in front of her.  

The lawyer representing the woman is Tony Buzbee, who also represents the other 23 women who have filed a lawsuit against Watson. Buzbee released a statement to multiple media outlets after the newest lawsuit was filed. 

“Today we filed the twenty-fourth case alleging sexual misconduct against Deshaun Watson,” Buzbee said. “The allegations made in this new case are strikingly similar to those made by many of the other victims. Lost in the media frenzy surrounding Deshaun Watson is that these are twenty-four strong, courageous women who, despite ridicule, legal shenanigans, and intense media scrutiny, continue to stand firm for what is right. Setting aside the legal wrangling, the complicity of the NFL, or the failures of the criminal justice system, the resounding story that should be told here is that these women are true heroes. I will say again, our entire team is incredibly proud to represent these women, and we look forward to the day when we can lay out their cases in detail in front of a jury.”

Unless the 24 cases are settled out of court, each one of them will eventually be heard in front of a jury. However, that might not happen until 2023 at the earliest because both sides have agreed that they won’t push the cases to be tried between Aug. 1, 2022 and March 1, 2023. 

On Monday evening, Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, released the following statement regarding the 24th suit that has been filed: “We are unable to respond to the new lawsuit at this time. Our legal team has not had time to investigate this new filing and had not heard her name until today. Deshaun continues to deny he did anything inappropriate with any of the plaintiffs.”

One interesting wrinkle in the new lawsuit is that it includes recent comments made by Hardin. During a radio interview on Friday, Hardin insinuated that “happy endings” are common in massage therapy and that just because you get one, it doesn’t mean a crime was committed. 

“I don’t know how many men are out there now that have had a massage that perhaps occasionally there was a happy ending,” Hardin said, via PFT. “Maybe there’s nobody in your listening audience that that ever happened to. I do want to point out, if it has happened, it’s not a crime. OK? Unless you are paying somebody extra or so to give you some type of sexual activity, it’s not a crime. … Doing something or saying something or being a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime.”

Hardin attempted to clarify his comments in a statement that he released just hours after the interview on Friday. 

“On a Houston radio show interview [on Friday], I mentioned that a massage that has a ‘happy ending’ is not illegal, meaning it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a therapist after a massage unless the sex is for pay,” Hardin said in the statement. “Deshaun did not pay anyone for sex. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis for a civil lawsuit.”

According to the latest lawsuit against Watson, Buzbee notes that the comments from Hardin basically make it sound like there’s no issue if Watson went into a massage expecting sex. 

“Despite Watson’s legal team’s efforts to normalize such conduct, such conduct is not normal and is legally actionable,” Buzbee wrote in the lawsuit. 

Buzbee also added that none of the women were looking to have a sexual encounter during their massage sessions, even if Watson was. 

“When Watson contacts a random massage therapist on Instagram, unbeknownst to the therapist, Watson is wanting more than a massage,” Buzbee wrote in the lawsuit. “The women do not learn about Watson’s proclivities until it’s too late.”

Watson has admitted to having consensual sex with at least three of the women. 

Before last week, the most recent lawsuit filed against Watson came all the way back in April 2021. At the time, Watson was facing 22 lawsuits, but a 23rd was filed on May 31 and the 24th one was filed Monday. Watson allegedly attempted to settle the lawsuits back in October, but the settlement fell through because not every woman was willing to take his offer. 

On the NFL’s end, the league is finishing up its investigation into the Browns quarterback, an investigation that should be completed soon, according to commissioner Roger Goodell. 

“I think we’re nearing the end of the investigative period,” Goodell said at the Spring League Meeting on May 24. “Then it will be handled by our disciplinary officer.”

Even though the investigation is expected to be wrapped up in the near future, Goodell hasn’t given a timeline for a possible announcement of the findings where the league would reveal whether Watson is facing a punishment or not. 

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