Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached an agreement to settle 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits that had been filed by women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment, an attorney for the women said Tuesday.
“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled. We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements,” Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing all 24 women, said in a statement. “Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”
Buzbee said he plans on taking the four lawsuits that weren’t settled to trial.
Read Buzbee's full statement:
“The cases against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis. At the time of that call she was just one of the hundreds of calls seeking legal assistance that our firm gets weekly. Even though she was originally turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I personally speak with her. I’m glad she persisted. Once we took a second look, and after having contact with Watson’s original lawyer who disrespected Ashley and her profession and who arrogantly minimized the conduct of someone he referred to as an 'asset,' I was convinced that our law firm should try to help her. As a result of Ashley’s lone but brave voice, soon many women who had allegedly experienced the same conduct were emboldened to step forward. I am incredibly proud to represent them all. They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withering cross examination by skilled litigators and stood firm. They are warriors all. Today we have an important announcement about these cases, but it is important to point out that, without Ashley Solis, the conduct experienced by these women would likely have continued unfettered. The truth is, without her courage and willingness to come forward, the NFL wouldn’t currently be contemplating discipline; there would be no examination of how teams might knowingly or unknowingly enable certain behavior; sports teams wouldn’t be reviewing their personnel screening processes; and this important story wouldn’t have dominated the sports headlines for more than a year.
"Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled. We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.
"As stated, Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story. Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue. I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule.”
In March, two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.
Watson has been accused by massage therapists of harassing, assaulting or touching them during appointments when he was playing for the Houston Texans.
He has denied wrongdoing.
The first 22 lawsuits were filed in March and April 2021, with the latest two being filed since HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” aired an interview last month with two of the women who detailed their encounters with Watson.
Last week, Watson was asked about settling. Here's what he said.
A possible suspension still looms for the Browns and Watson.
"Today’s development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.
RELATED: Deshaun Watson facing 24th lawsuit
With reporting from the Associated Press.
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.