HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Already facing 22 civil lawsuits against him alleging a range of sexual misconduct, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is facing yet another as a 23rd woman is joining the suit after watching the HBO Real Sports special and being "struck by the courage of the victims" who appeared in the interview.
The woman is not coming forward with any new allegations, but rather pursuing justice for what she had already come forward with when the news of the first sexual assault lawsuits against Watson occurred. At that time, the woman gave an interview about what she said occurred between herself and Watson, but had no intention of filing a lawsuit at that time, hoping to avoid a "long, drawn-out, public lawsuit."
In the case of the 23rd woman to file a lawsuit against Watson, she was working as a licensed cosmetologist at a salon and spa in Houston when she claims Watson reached out to her via Instagram on June 7, 2020, asking for a massage, telling her he located her after seeing a promotional video about the salon in social media.
According to the petition, the woman's boss and owner of the spa was a fan of Watson and encouraged her to book the massage. Leading up to the session, Watson allegedly asked her to focus on his "glutes" and once the session began attempted to have the woman perform sexual acts to him, but she avoided it and shrugged it off as a "fetish."
The petition alleges that Watson reached out to the woman in August of 2020 for another massage, during which requests for sexual exchanges increased to the level of Watson touching the woman and asking if she wanted to perform oral sex on him. The woman alleges in the lawsuit that she was feeling "extremely uncomfortable" but wanted to remain professional and not cause conflict, for fear of Watson's stature as well as her boss' desire to keep him as a client. The woman claims to have cut the session short 15 minutes after Watson allegedly made her touch ejaculation that was on his stomach.
A third massage with the woman was later booked, one which she alleges she "did not want to do," but "could not refuse Watson as a client" because of her boss. During the third and final session, the woman alleges that Watson was straightforward with his desires for the session, getting naked and getting on the table completely exposed, asking for his buttocks to be massaged and asking the woman to have sex with him, and telling her that he had a condom in his bag before touching her between her legs, according to the petition.
Following the final session, the woman said she quit her job at the salon and was "completely traumatized by the experience with Watson."
While the actions alleged in the petition are not new information, the filing of a lawsuit for the incidents is. The woman said that seeing the two women in the HBO Real Sports episode about the allegations made her confident to come forward and pursue justice. She also said that hearing Watson say he had "no regrets" during his introductory press conference in Berea "solidified her resolve."
As part of her lawsuit, the woman is seeking "minimum compensation" which includes punitive damages and legal fee costs, but also "to obtain a court finding that Watson's conduct was wrong."
Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the 23 women filing lawsuits against Watson, said that a 24th lawsuit is in the works of being filed as well.
Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson after deliberating his case, which brought no criminal charges to the Browns quarterback but still left him with the 22 lawsuits, which now sit at 23, soon to be 24.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, released the following statement on the latest lawsuit:
"Deshaun Watson vehemently denies the allegations, just as he has since she first discussed them with members of our firm in March of last year. She repeated the allegations on social media in August and he denied them then. The only thing new about her contentions is the embellishment making them more extreme than prior versions. Deshaun’s denial remains the same.
The two highly respected lawyers from our firm, Letitia Quinones and Rachel Lewis, also vehemently deny there was any coercion or intimidation involved in the very cordial meeting at Vic and Anthony’s (Mr. Buzbee and the plaintiff are not even right about where the meeting was, much less what was said). They met her to see if she was one of Mr. Buzbee’s then still anonymous plaintiffs. At that time Mr. Buzbee refused to identify his clients. The suggestion that either of these two accomplished lawyers would have said “us black women must stick together” is absurd. The interview was so congenial, she joined the lawyers for dinner afterwards.
We are aware that more than a year ago she had other lawyers representing her and they ultimately terminated the representation. This plaintiff has long had a vendetta against Deshaun since she jealously and angrily published Deshaun’s personal data on social media in November 2020. In filing her lawsuit now she was obviously not influenced by recent developments. We are not surprised Mr. Buzbee was willing to say just about anything to get more publicity. He knows the NFL continues to investigate these cases, and this is a transparent attempt to further punish the man he sees as a potential payday."
Watson has been in Berea working with the team, present for voluntary OTAs, and working to get ready for the upcoming season.
The lawsuits prompted the NFL to investigate Watson, and after meeting with the quarterback several times, was near the end of the investigation, according to commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell added that there was no timeline for an announcement of any kind of resolution, including a possible suspension.
A decision on possible disciplinary action against Watson from the league will be determined by a disciplinary office established by the NFL and NFLPA, which Goodell previously said would be completed when the officer decided that "all the facts are in."
The league declined to comment on the latest lawsuit.
OTAs in Berea continue this week with an open session scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
You can read the latest lawsuit petition in its entirety here (WARNING: Details in the document include graphic language.)
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