During the entire time that attorney Tony Buzbee has filed lawsuit after lawsuit after lawsuit against NFL superstar Deshaun Watson for alleged sexual assault and inappropriate behavior—at last count, the total number of lawsuits was 21—Buzbee has maintained that he would submit evidence backing up these claims to the Houston Police Department in order to seek justice for his clients.
However, in a completely unexpected change of tune, the 52-year-old has announced on Instagram that he will be seeking out other alternatives and explained his decision to do so.
“Our team has been roundly criticized because these numerous brave women haven’t filed formal criminal complaints with HPD (although we have provided info to other organizations.),” he wrote. “Here is my worry: When I ran for Houston mayor against the CURRENT mayor, I called for the resignation of the former police chief. I was thus reluctant initially in these important cases to provide info to HPD, at least while Art Acevedo was the Police Chief—even though my brother-in-law is a long-term HPD officer. Mr. Acevedo has now left Houston for Miami. Yet, I’ve since learned that my legal opponent, Mr. Hardin, has a son who is on of the exclusive Command Staff of HPD.”
He continued, “I am not saying in any way that Deshaun Watson’s lawyer, Mr. Hardin, has a son who has a position that would compromise HPD and its investigation. I support his service, along with all Houston police officers—I think the rank and file know that. But, I am saying that me and my clients will go elsewhere to provide our evidence to investigative authorities.”
There’s a lot to unpack here, so bear with me.
I’m not exactly the most trusting individual when it comes to law enforcement—being Black for a few decades will do that to a person—but does anyone else find it a bit odd that Buzbee believes that the claims of the 19 different women named in these lawsuits would fall on deaf ears solely because of their affiliation with him as their legal counsel? And that police would entirely ignore this “irrefutable evidence” out of spite because of that? Especially considering Buzbee isn’t even a victim of Watson’s alleged behavior? And if that were the case, why in the hell would these accusers ever even ask Buzbee to represent them in the first place? Shouldn’t he have explained to these women that this was a potential obstacle prior to even accepting them as clients? Wouldn’t they be better served hiring a different lawyer?
There’s been plenty of skepticism surrounding these accusations from the jump, and Buzbee’s refusal to cooperate with Houston PD only fuels those suspicions. This is something that Rusty Hardin, who represents Watson, made note of in a statement provided to The Root:
“Since March 19, Mr. Tony Buzbee has repeatedly promised to submit evidence to the Houston Police Department in support of his anonymous clients’ complaints against Deshaun Watson. So far, he has not done so. Now, in response to media inquiries, Mr. Buzbee has abandoned his promise altogether and, in his words, will go ‘elsewhere to provide his evidence to investigative authorities.’
His latest excuse for failing to go to law enforcement is also his lamest. Anyone who has dealt with HPD, as I have for many years, would know that Mr. Buzbee’s suggestion that the Department would overlook legitimate complaints based upon a family connection of one of its officers is ludicrous. It is also insulting to the dedicated professionals at HPD and to common sense. Mr. Buzbee’s claimed fear of HPD’s partiality is inconsistent with his prior praise for the Department’s response to the burglary of his home during his recent mayoral campaign.
I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Buzbee’s failure to go to law enforcement does not result from some baseless fear that HPD will not fairly investigate. Instead, it is from the knowledge that his parade of anonymous allegations could not survive the rigorous inquiry of trained investigators or the need to attest to the truth of the allegations under oath.
For our part, we will continue to learn about the cases in any way that we can. We and Deshaun will always remain available to any law enforcement or regulatory agency who desires our cooperation.
Apparently, Mr. Buzbee is unwilling to do the same.”
As lawsuits have continued to pour in, Watson has continued to maintain his innocence; and in an additional statement provided to The Root from his legal team, 18 massage therapists have come forward detailing their own experiences and voicing their support for the embattled quarterback:
“During the past two weeks, the law office of Rusty Hardin & Associates has received dozens of unsolicited phone calls, letters, emails and text messages from professional massage therapists who have worked with Deshaun Watson.
These women say they are deeply troubled by the accusations made against Deshaun and that these claims are wholly inconsistent with their experiences with him and who they believe him to be. All of them stated that Deshaun never made them feel uncomfortable or demanded anything outside the scope of a professional massage. None of them experienced any of the behavior alleged by anonymous plaintiffs in the numerous lawsuits filed by the same Houston attorney.”
Ashley Thomas, a licensed massage therapist who owns a spa in Grand Prairie, Texas, provided The Root with the following statement:
“I first worked on Deshaun at a hotel in Houston in December of 2019 after reaching out to him on Instagram. I remember Clemson was in town that day for a football game and Deshaun watched it during his session. Before the appointment, he laid out what he wanted in very clear terms: he was only interested in a professional massage.
I worked on him four or five times total, the last time being in June 2020. He was always pretty quiet and never anything but respectful, he was the sweetest guy. The sessions were very professional – he arrived, got his massage, and he left. I’ve never heard anything negative about him and I was completely thrown off guard by the recent allegations.”
Clearly, these accusations are very serious, and hopefully, the truth eventually comes to light.
We’ll keep you updated as this story develops.