A 24th woman has sued Deshaun Watson and accused him of sexual misconduct in 2020, marking the second time in a week that a new lawsuit has been filed against the quarterback after all the others were filed in March and April 2021.
Watson has denied wrongdoing, but the recent spat of new has clouded the beginning of his run as the new star of the Cleveland Browns, a team that recently gave him a record guaranteed contract of $230 million over five years.
In the newest lawsuit filed this week in Harris County, Texas, a massage therapist in Houston said she gave Watson two massages at her apartment in August 2020 and that he masturbated in front of her and ejaculated during the second encounter. The first massage was “professional,” the suit stated, and Watson had to leave abruptly after taking a phone call.
By the end of the second encounter, the woman said she was in “complete shock and could not speak” after Watson “continued masturbating more aggressively.” Her lawsuit said she ran into the bathroom to clean Watson’s ejaculate off her.
“Watson offered no apology or explanation for his conduct,” the lawsuit stated. “He instead got dressed, paid plaintiff $150 via Cash App and left. Plaintiff was left humiliated and traumatized. Shortly after the massage, plaintiff called her close friend to tell her what happened. They both were mortified by Watson’s conduct. There were no further massage sessions. She shortly thereafter quit massage therapy.”
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The woman’s lawsuit stated that “even though she was always professional
with Watson, as she has been with every client, she at times blames herself.”
Her suit states she suffers from depression and anxiety and has had difficulty sleeping after the encounter. The lawsuit seeks minimal compensatory damages, much like the other lawsuits against Watson.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement Monday afternoon.
“We are unable to respond to the new lawsuit at this time,” the statement said. “Our legal team has not had time to investigate this new filing and had not heard her name until today. Deshaun continues to deny he did anything inappropriate with any of the plaintiffs.”
The woman’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, also represents the other 23 women who have sued Watson. He issued his own statement Monday:
“Today the twenty-fourth case alleging sexual misconduct against Deshaun Watson,” the statement said. “The statement made in this new case are strikingly similar to those made by many of the other victims. Lost in the media frenzy surrounding Deshaun Watson is that these are twenty-four strong, courageous women who, despite ridicule, legal shenanigans, and intense media scrutiny, continue to stand firm for what is right. Setting aside the legal wrangling, the complicity of the NFL, or the failures of the criminal justice system, the resounding story that should be told here is that these women are true heroes. I will say again, our entire team is incredibly proud to represent these women, and we look forward to the day when we can lay out their cases in detail in front of a jury.”
The other lawsuit filed last week alleges he had three massage encounters with a woman in 2020 who said he exposed himself to her, touched her between the legs, requested sex and asked to be touched in his private areas. Hardin previously told USA TODAY Sports that the latter woman “has no believability by anyone who knows her” and has had a “vendetta against Deshaun for a year and a half.”
The other lawsuits filed in 2021 generally say Watson contacted women on social media for massages and then exposed himself to them, caused his genitals to touch them without their consent and in some cases tried to coerce them into oral sex.
“Each of the cases against him is strikingly similar, evidencing a habit or custom: Watson seeks out random strangers on Instagram, as he has done more than a hundred times,” the newest lawsuit states.
The NFL has been investigating the and could suspend him if he is found to have violated the league’s personal conduct policy. Watson, 26, has not been arrested or charged. Hardin has said the women are all lying and and blames Buzbee for what he says is being “willing to say just about anything to get more publicity.” Hardin also said Buzbee sees Watson as a “potential payday.”
Hardin said three of the plaintiffs engaged with consensual sex with Watson, which the women dispute in their lawsuits.
In March, two separate grand juries in the Houston area declined to indict Watson on criminal charges after being presented with 10 combined complaints filed by women against Watson. The civil cases continue and are not going to trial until March 2023 at the earliest.
Watson was with the Browns Monday morning at their golf outing in Rocky River, Ohio.
Asked about the 24th lawsuit , Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said, “With that, we’re just trying to be respectful of the process and let that take care of it.”
Contributing: Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @schrotenboer, E-mail: email@example.com