NewsLocal NewsCleveland Metro


Local women's organizations and RAINN speak out following Deshaun Watson suspension

Robyn 1.jpg
Posted at 10:48 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-06 17:04:09-05

CLEVELAND — The decision of Deshaun Watson's future for the 2022 season has made a ripple effect within Northeast Ohio to those who are fans - and those who are not. It has especially hit home to those who have been affected by sexual assault.

The Cleveland Browns Women’s Group, a Facebook Group run by Robyn Lockner saw firsthand the impact of signing Watson in March.

“We lost quite a few members in the group when we first signed him,” Lockner said.

The Facebook group has more than 6,300 members, which has brought lots of opinions and thoughts since the six-game suspension.

“Some people are saying there should have been more games,” Lockner said. “Some are saying there should have been less games. Everyone seems to have a different opinion.”

As debate takes place in online forums and groups, other organizations found it disappointing.

“I found the six game suspension really disappointing,” said Scott Berkowitz, the president of the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, better known as RAINN. “I think the league was right to ask for a full year of suspension and I hope they end up appealing this decision.”

However, the president of the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization believes the decision will have consequences.

RELATED: Deshaun Watson suspension leaves mixed emotions among Browns fans

“Feels like a bit of a slap on the wrist,” he said. “I think that’s a problem for the dozens of women he assaulted and also for other survivors who see this and are trying to make their own decision about whether it makes sense for them to come forward and report their own assault. This is going to discourage some people.”

In the conclusion written by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, she re referred to Watson’s actions as ‘non-violent sexual assault.” Berkowitz added it doesn’t speak to the violence committed.

“That doesn’t say anything about the violence that’s behind the crime or the seriousness of the crime that’s committed,” he said.

As for Robyn, she is hoping the decision gives Watson a chance to think about his actions.

“What I think Deshaun Watson needs is some counseling,” she said. “He needs to understand why all of this happened, and what his actions did and how that made women feel, even though he doesn’t feel he did anything wrong.”

Both RAINN and the Women’s Group hope that the Browns organization can move forward by giving back, especially to those who support sexual assault survivors.

Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.