Deshaun Watson won’t be heading to trial–or jail–following an investigation on sexual assault allegations by multiple women.
The Houston Texans quarterback, who missed all of last season while law enforcement and the NFL investigated the allegations, learned today that a grand jury closed its probe in his case without bringing charges.
The district attorney’s office in Harris County, Texas, presented evidence to the 12-person grand jury for over six hours on Friday related to nine of the 10 criminal complaints filed against Watson last year. The grand jury, which does not require a unanimous vote, rejected all nine cases; prosecutors did not present the 10th. According to Johna Stallings, division chief of the adult sex crimes and human trafficking unit at the Harris County District Attorney’s office, the criminal proceedings in Harris County against Watson have concluded.
Though he technically wasn’t suspended by the NFL for the 2021 season, Watson reportedly loathes the Texans organization and wants to be traded. But other NFL teams were circumspect about bringing him in given the legal problems hanging over his head.
The lack of criminal charges doesn’t mean Watson is in the clear on all of the allegations.
Watson, 26, still faces civil lawsuits brought by 22 women massage therapists who allege he assaulted them when he was under their care. It’s still likely the NFL will suspend him for some significant part of the next season–assuming the Texans find a trade partner–under the league’s personal conduct policy. Other players, including former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (six games) and former Ravens running back Ray Rice (indefinite) have been suspended under the same policy for sexual assault or domestic violence allegations. In Rice’s case, he was initially for two games, but when video emerged of him striking his then-fiancée in an elevator, it ended his career.