Browns' Watson facing lawsuit from 23rd woman

Browns’ Watson facing lawsuit from 23rd woman

Another woman has filed a lawsuit against Deshaun Watson, joining 22 others who accused the Cleveland Browns quarterback in civil cases filed in 2021 of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions.

In the 23rd civil case filed Tuesday in Texas against Watson, the lawsuit states that the plaintiff had her first massage session with Watson during the summer of 2020 and that his “behavior grew worse.” During the third and final massage, she alleges in the lawsuit that Watson exposed himself to her, touched the woman between the legs and “repeatedly requested” her to have sex with him.

According to the lawsuit, the woman changed her mind about suing Watson after watching HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” last week. On that show, two other women, Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes, who have also accused Watson of inappropriate sexual conduct, criticized the Browns for giving the quarterback an NFL-record $230 million guaranteed contract after trading for him in March.

“It’s just like a big ‘screw you,'” Solis told HBO.

Leah Graham, one of Watson’s attorneys, told HBO that Watson has “no regrets because he did nothing wrong.”

“In that piece, the plaintiff was struck by the courage of the victims willing to step forward and speak and was extremely pleased by Watson and his legal team’s mistreatment and revictimization of the plaintiffs,” the latest lawsuit states. “But it was Watson himself claiming that even now he has ‘no regrets’ and has done nothing wrong that solidified her resolve. She brings this case seeking minimum compensation, but to obtain a court finding that Watson’s conduct was wrong.”

In the latest lawsuit, the plaintiff also alleges that Watson’s legal defense contacted her to determine at the time if she was among those who filed civil lawsuits against the quarterback. The lawsuit states in that meeting Watson’s lawyer attempted to “intimidate” her.

Rusty Hardin, who also represents Watson, said in a statement later that his client “vehemently denies the” of sexual misconduct “just as he has since she first discussed them with members of our firm in March of last year.” Harden also denied the woman’s allegation of lawyer intimidation when the sides previously met.

Two grand juries in Texas have declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson, who has denied all wrongdoing. The NFL is investigating whether Watson violated its code of conduct policy and interviewed the quarterback in person two weeks ago as part of its investigation.

At the league’s spring meeting in Atlanta, commissioner Roger Goodell said he thinks the NFL is nearing the end of its investigation but couldn’t give a timeline for when a ruling might be made.

The Browns did not immediately issue comment on the latest lawsuit. Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the 23 plaintiffs, said “other cases may come against” Watson.

“The Watson defense team has vilified these women and this cause,” he said in a statement. “Shame on them! We look forward to trying this case in court.”

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