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Grand jury declines to indict Browns' new QB Deshaun Watson on previous allegation

Deshaun Watson
Posted at 2:56 PM, Mar 24, 2022

CLEVELAND — A previous allegation made by a woman who filed one of the original 22 lawsuits against the Browns’ new quarterback Deshaun Watson was presented to a grand jury in Texas Wednesday who declined to indict Watson in this case after deliberating Thursday, Texas court officials confirmed to News 5.

Watson, who is in Berea Thursday undergoing a physical for his new team, avoided criminal charges last week when a Harris County grand jury declined to indict him, but he still faces 22 civil lawsuits from as many women accusing him of sexual misconduct.

The 26-year-old Watson, who previously played with the Texans, spent two days this week in Houston giving depositions in civil lawsuits filed by female massage therapists who allege he harassed and assaulted them during massage appointments.

Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin said another case, brought by one of the 22 women who have filed suit, was presented to a Brazoria County grand jury in Texas that deliberated on the cast Thursday. Hardin said the case stems from a year-old allegation.

After deliberating, the grand jury declined to indict Watson in this case, the Brazoria County district attorney's office told News 5.

District Attorney Tom Selleck issued the following statement regarding the decision:

"After a careful and thorough review of the facts and evidence documented in the reports prepared by the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office and the Houston Police Department, as well as hearing testimony from witnesses, the Grand Jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes. Accordingly, this matter is closed."

Watson did not appear before the grand jury Thursday. Hardin said his client "didn't engage in any improper conduct" in this case.

Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the 22 women in the civil lawsuits, issued the following statement Thursday:

I have always known that there would be at least one other Texas grand jury. The complaint being considered currently in Brazoria County was made a year back. I have no involvement in the criminal process. What happens criminally has no bearing on the civil cases. I am involved with the civil side in what I believe to be very strong cases. That is, has been, and will remain my primary focus. Even though I’m not involved, anyone who has suggested that Mr. Watson has been cleared criminally was obviously misinformed or not paying attention.

In addition to the legal battle ahead of him, Watson also faces possible discipline by the NFL, which could include suspension. That remains to be seen.

“If the league’s investigation determines that Watson violated the Personal Conduct Policy, discipline may be imposed pursuant to the policy and the CBA,” an NFL spokesperson told News 5 last week.

On Thursday following the second grand jury's decision, the NFL release the following statement:

"We continue to closely monitor all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy."

The Browns and Watson agreed on a base salary of $1 million for 2022, which would address a possible suspension.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson, who sat out the 2020 season after demanding a trade, chose Cleveland to restart his career over several other teams after initially telling the Browns he wasn’t interested in playing for them. However, he changed his mind, perhaps swayed by a fully guaranteed $230 million contract.

Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam released statements on Sunday saying the team went through a “comprehensive evaluation process” before deciding to pursue Watson and ultimately signing him.

RELATED: Browns to give Texans 6 draft picks in Deshaun Watson trade

The Associated Press contributed to this report.