Already defending himself against 22 civil lawsuits for alleged sexual assault and harassment, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was sued by a 23rd woman in Texas yesterday on similar allegations. And the attorney for all the plaintiffs says another lawsuit is coming soon.
The Associated Press reported that attorney Tony Buzbee said via text on Tuesday that he, “will be filing a 24th case soon,” without giving any further details.
The sexual misconduct accusations have hovered over Watson since last year, when 22 women massage therapists came forward with accusations that Watson, at the time playing for the Houston Texans, had hired them for their services but then initiated inappropriate touching, sexual banter and requests during massage sessions. Two of the women explicitly detailed their allegations in a recent interview with HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, saying Watson intentionally dropped a towel meant to cover his groin during massages, touched them with his penis and even ejaculated during massage sessions.
Watson, through his attorneys and during a press conference in March when he was introduced as the Browns’ new quarterback, has always flatly denied the allegations. He was traded to Cleveland last month after sitting out the entire 2021 football season after requesting a trade that Houston either wouldn’t, or could not, make happen. In the meantime, Watson’s endorsement deals with brands including Nike and Beats by Dre, were terminated.
After law enforcement in Texas completed their investigations and declined to charge Watson criminally in connection with the accusations, a short bidding war erupted between several teams for his services; under his contract with the Texans, Watson had the power to determine where he would accept a trade. He chose Cleveland, which sent five draft picks to Houston in exchange for Watson and a 2024 sixth-round selection in the NFL draft.
Cleveland then made Watson the highest-paid player in NFL history, with a contract worth a fully-guaranteed $230 million over five years. But he may not see the field in games that matter anytime soon. The NFL still has the right to suspend him under its personal conduct policy, and the league has yet to announced the results of its own investigation into the original 22 allegations.
It’s unclear how a 23rd and possible 24th civil lawsuit might impact the league’s investigation.