The Houston Texans have reached settlements with 30 women who have alleged the team’s former star quarterback, Deshaun Watson, sexually assaulted or harassed them, one month after one of the women filed a lawsuit claiming the Texans enabled his misconduct.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women, did not disclose the terms of the settlements in a statement to Forbes, but said the suit against the team will be dismissed and four ongoing lawsuits against Watson will continue, with a trial date as early as next spring.
Watson, a 26-year-old three-time Pro-Bowl selection, previously settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits that have been filed against him by massage therapists who have accused him of sexual assault in some cases as well as harassment, with some saying he exposed himself during massages and tried to coerce them into sexual contact.
The Texans were named in a lawsuit filed by one of Watson’s accusers last month, claiming the team “turned a blind eye” after learning about the quarterback’s history of soliciting massages over social media, and “enabled” him to do so.
Watson has repeatedly denied the allegations, admitting there was sexual activity but arguing that the women were not coerced.
Texans’ owner Janice McNair and CEO Cal McNair said in a joint statement Friday the organization did not know about the misconduct, and chose to “resolve this matter amicably.”
“I will have no further comment on the allegations or the Texans’ alleged role, other than to say that there is a marked contrast in the way in which the Texans addressed these allegations, and the way in which Watson’s team has done so,” Buzbee said in a statement Friday.
According to the lawsuit filed last month the Texans first learned of Watson’s history of soliciting massages in June 2020, when the owner of a Houston massage studio reached out to the team, claiming the quarterback was seeking out “unqualified strangers,” but did nothing to reprimand him. After the initial accusations of misconduct were made against Watson, the team drafted a nondisclosure agreement for him to use with masseuses in order to “protect himself,” according to the lawsuit. He allegedly used the NDA for more massages, threatening to withhold pay if masseuses didn’t sign, the suit states. The team, in response, released a statement, saying they have complied with investigations since March 2021. The Texans benched Watson for the entire 2021-22 season due to the allegations against him. He was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March, who signed him to a five-year contract with $230 million in guaranteed money, however it’s unclear when he’ll be able to play for the team. The National Football League and NFL Players Association held a three-day hearing late last month with jointly appointed disciplinary officer Sue Robinson, who will deliberate on a potential suspension for the quarterback. ESPN reported last month the NFL is pushing for a lengthy suspension. A final decision is expected by July 27.
Houston Texans Accused In Lawsuit Of Enabling Deshaun Watson’s Sexual Misconduct (Forbes)
Deshaun Watson Settles 20 Of 24 Suits Alleging Sexual Misconduct (Forbes)