NFL

Deshaun Watson now facing sexual assault allegations from 12 women

Deshaun Watson’s lawyer says the NFL star will publicly address the allegations of sexual assault levied against him in the coming days, but portions of their defence strategy against multiple civil lawsuits are beginning to emerge.

The Houston Texans’ quarterback is “adamant” he didn’t sexually assault any of the various women who have filed civil lawsuits against him in Harris County, Texas, TMZ reported Sunday (AEDT), citing multiple sources connected to the quarterback.

The public comments come just hours after a lawyer representing at least 12 women filing civil assault lawsuits against Deshaun Watson painted the Houston Texans quarterback as a serial harasser whose behaviour escalated to forced oral sex.

Tony Buzbee said during a news conference Friday that seven lawsuits have been filed and five more are coming — several of the 12 unidentified women were hired to massage Watson — and 10 other women have contacted his office with similar stories not yet verified.

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Another woman alleged that “it became apparent that Watson wanted a massage for only one reason — sex,” adding that he acted in an “aggressive” manner and touched her with his genitalia.

The majority of the women who already have filed suits have claimed Watson initially contacted them through Instagram. Watson’s side told TMZ that he only contacted the women via social media because his regular masseuse was unavailable due to the COVID pandemic.

Deshaun Watson and girlfriend Jilly Anais.Source:Instagram

Watson asked various acquaintances for recommendations, and the sources added that Watson “put an emphasis on privacy” and specified the areas he wanted massaged “to make sure the masseuse was comfortable and to ensure things stayed professional,” TMZ reported.

At least one masseuse said in her complaint that she found it “somewhat peculiar” that a “NFL player would seek a massage from her, because she is not a yet a well-known masseuse.”

Sources close to Watson also told the website that the 25-year-old “insists he never crossed the line” with the alleged victims, and he “strongly believes they’re being led by a money-hungry lawyer who’s looking for a payout.”

The most recent incident happened earlier this month, after Buzbee first notified Watson’s representation of the allegations, he said.

“This case isn’t about money,” said Buzbee, a high-profile Texas lawyer.

“We have pleaded the jurisdictional minimum … (of) US$500. It’s certainly not about seeking publicity or fame. I personally don’t need it, and these women don’t want it. This case is about female empowerment and taking the power back.

“They bring these cases for one reason only: Stopping further misconduct from this defendant and any others like him,” Buzbee added. “We won’t be deterred.”

Buzbee said he “stopped counting at 10 death threats” against him, his children and his colleagues from social media commenters.

Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans.Source:AFP

Watson, who inked a four-year extension worth $156 million in 2020, isn’t looking to reach monetary settlements with the women, the TMZ report stated, and “he doesn’t want to give them a cent because he’s adamant he didn’t do anything wrong.”

The 25-year-old asked the Texans to trade him earlier this month. The Texans held on to him and now the allegations cloud the market and could make potential suitors, such as the Jets and Dolphins, leery of dealing for the Pro Bowl quarterback.

Watson denied the initial allegation and denied ever mistreating women. His NFL agent, David Mulugheta, released a statement before Buzbee spoke Saturday, pointing out that false allegations can be prosecuted, too.

“Sexual assault is real,” wrote Mulugheta, who represents dozens of high-profile NFL clients. “Victims should be heard, offenders prosecuted. Individuals fabricate stories in pursuit of financial gain often. Their victims should be heard, and those offenders also prosecuted. I simply hope we keep this same energy with the truth.”

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

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