A still somewhat recent article by Jenny Vrentas posted in the New York Times indicated that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson employed the services of at least 66 different massage therapists during the 17-month period leading up to the first allegations of sexual misconduct, a steep incline from the ‘around 40’ that he would acknowledge himself.
The other major piece of information from that article detailed the extent to which the Houston Texans may have knowingly and/or unknowingly been complicit in enabling Watson’s behavior, which included supplying him with a Non-Disclosure Agreement he would eventually have women sign in addition to allowing him use of a private suite in a hotel, at which many of the massage sessions took place—and from which many of the lawsuits stem.
Much of this was information that even the women themselves, and their lawyer, Tony Buzbee, were not privy to at the time, and which is now generating new and expanded lawsuits. In a statement, he said yesterday that “the first case of what will likely be many against the Houston Texans” was filed.
And in that case, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out, there is a very strong indication that Watson will continue to face more and more lawsuits from the 66 or so women. He is still facing four, having recently settled 20 of them, but it won’t end there.
“It is now known that in many of Watson’s multiple massage interactions, more than massage therapy occurred — indeed, with at least thirty different women, the ‘more’ that occurred included unwanted sexual advances and outright sexual assault by Watson”, it says in the suit. “Each of those thirty plus women, most of which are complete strangers to one another, experienced strikingly similar conduct from Watson”.
While there was a group of massage therapists who claim to have worked on Watson who voiced their support for him, 24 have obviously sued him, and this lawsuit strongly indicates that at least six or more intend to do so.
As previously reported, Watson recently settled 20 of the 24 cases, leaving four outstanding who refuse to settle, at least for whatever might have been offered, but the active case total could spike back up to double digits before long.
Watson today will meet with a jointly-appointed disciplinary officer to begin proceedings to discuss possible punishment he may face through the league. The NFL reportedly intends to argue for an indefinite suspension of at least a year, while the NFLPA will argue for substantially less—and possibly no suspension at all, based on how owners facing allegations of a similar nature have avoided such discipline.