One lawsuit was filed late on a Tuesday night in which Deshaun Watson was accused of intentionally touching a female massage therapist with his genital on a date nearly one year prior.
There are now 16 lawsuits – in all of which Watson is accused of sexual misconduct – filed one week later. And all of them are alleging sexual misconduct on separate massage dates in seemingly distinct places. Two of the lawsuits also include claims of sexual assault.
The 25-year-old Watson has denied wrongdoing in general. He has also confirmed that he has openly displayed respect toward women.
According to his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, Watson is unfairly accused of blackmail by the plaintiffs and that the allegations are not warranted. It’s clear from the 16 civil lawsuits, NFL investigation, and lingering legal questions that there isn’t going to be a quick resolution here.
Here’s an overview of some important aspects of the lawsuits that are likely to come next.
All 16 women are represented by Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee, who has said none of the women previously reported the incidents to the police. The zealous lawyer promised to provide evidence about the allegations to Harris County district attorneys and Houston police.
According to John Clune, an attorney with the Hutchinson, Black & Cook law firm, victims of sexual assault often prefer to file a civil lawsuit because of its level of control. He has handled high-profile cases against athletes involving sexual assault.
In his opinion, Clune asserts that the police should investigate the alleged incident and that the district attorney is ultimately responsible for deciding whether to press charges or not. Even if the civil lawsuits are resolved, an investigation involving criminal conduct may still take place, he warned.
Even in the absence of criminal charges or a civil judgment, Watson will have to face the NFL- a governing body that has already suspended players for violating its personal conduct policy.
Even though the 16 lawsuits against Watson were filed simultaneously and allege the same conduct, experts cautioned that each case would ultimately be decided on its merit as each of them is based on separate and distinct facts.
Based on the stakes, it is unclear whether Watson and his lawyer Hardin will resolve these cases through settlement rather than a trial at this point, given that most civil cases are settled before trial.
Nondisclosure agreements are likely to accompany settlements, where more details regarding the alleged incidents would not emerge. However, Watson may opt to litigate the cases rather than consent to their dismissal. If he were to do that, it would drag out the process but provide him with the opportunity to clear his name more completely. In the opinion of Meredith Duncan, a law professor at the University of Houston, Deshaun Watson, the Texans quarterback, has a lot to lose. He has more to lose than the money judgment that may be hung against him; he has to get his career in the NFL back on track, as well as his reputation.
Rachel Lott is a Reporter for Chroniclex After graduating from Cuyahoga Community College, Rachel got an internship at USA Evening and worked as a Reporter and Producer. Rachel has also worked as a Reporter for WKYC TV and Fox News Channel. Rachel Covers International Developments.