Deshaun Watson and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, have already acknowledged in court that the Cleveland Browns quarterback had engaged in sexual interactions with three of the massage therapists who are currently suing him in civil lawsuits. He and his team maintain that those interactions were consensual and not a part of the massage.
Hardin, however, probably shouldn’t have opened his mouth about it on the radio, yesterday, as the lawyer representing the now 23 women suing him intends to use his remarks against Watson. He talked about ‘happy endings’ during massages and how they were not illegal nor criminal if one doesn’t pay for them.
“I do want to point out, if it has happened, it’s not a crime”, he said on Sports Radio 610 Houston, transcribed by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Unless you are paying somebody extra or so to give you some type of sexual activity, it’s not a crime. . . . Doing something or saying something or being a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime”.
Evidently somehow not realizing the magnitude of what he just said and its inevitability of going viral, he subsequently issued a statement regarding his comments on the radio…essentially repeating what he said.
“On a Houston radio show interview today, I mentioned that a massage that has a ‘happy ending’ is not illegal, meaning it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a therapist after a massage unless the sex is for pay”, he said in the statement, in part. “Deshaun did not pay anyone for sex. I was using the term hypothetically and not describing Deshaun’s case”.
Speaking totally hypothetically, of course, as a lawyer representing a client who has admitted doing this exact thing at least three times. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis for a civil lawsuit. I was not talking about what Deshaun did or did not do or expected or did not expect”.
As one would very naturally expect, Buzbee seized upon these statements and issued one of his own, essentially declaring an early victory. He told John Barr of ESPN, Hardin “may have single-handedly lost his client’s case because I’m absolutely going to use that comment because I think it speaks volumes to how he, his team and his client think about the massage industry”.
“If you’re in the massage industry, according to Rusty Hardin, that’s to be expected”, he added, which is a key point in the cases—that Watson sought these massage sessions with the intention of initiating a sexual encounter, whether consensual or otherwise. “And apparently that’s what his client expected. I promise you that’s not what any of these women expected”.
Regardless of how momentous this may or may not be in the case, it’s still probably not the best in terms of optics to have your lawyer traipsing around the airwaves talking about how ‘happy endings’ are fine as long as they are naturally occurring when you’re being sued 23 times and accused of seeking happy endings and more.