I guess we’re really going to keep doing this, since new twists keep emerging. Every day, it seems, things get just a little bit worse for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, and those who have actively chosen to associate with him.
Following a minor blockbuster of an article by Jenny Vrentas published on Tuesday for the New York Times, lawyer Tony Buzbee, who represents the 24-and-likely-climbing women—massage therapists—who have filed civil lawsuits against Watson accusing him of a wide variety of sexual impropriety, announced yesterday that he would be adding the quarterback’s former team to the lawsuit as a defendant.
That would be the Houston Texans, who insist that they first learned of the allegations against Watson, which run the gamut from improper sexual suggestions to rape, in March of last year when the first civil lawsuits were filed.
In the NYT article, Vrentas reports that the Texans had furnished Watson with a suite at The Houstonian hotel, at which he engaged at least seven different massage therapists (out of at least 66 in the 17 months leading up to March of 2021) in massage sessions. The suite is purportedly in the name of a member of the team’s training staff.
Additionally, Watson claimed under oath that the head of the Texans’ security furnished him with a Non-Disclosure Agreement, following an incident in which one massage therapist he employed threatened to take her accusations public.
He brought that NDA to (presumably all) future massage appointments. In at least one instance, a massage therapist has testified that Watson told her he would not be able to pay her unless she were to sign the NDA—which is, of course, false.
After the article came out, Buzbee engaged his own contacts, including speaking to representatives in the Houston Police Department, following which he determined that it would be appropriate to add the Houston Texans to the lawsuits, as he claimed in a statement yesterday—among other defendants to be named.
“What has become clear is that the Houston Texans organization and their contracting ‘massage therapy company’ facilitated Deshaun Watson’s conduct”, he added, in part, in the statement. “In many of these cases, the Texans provided the opportunity for this conduct to occur. We believe the Texans organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act. They know or certainly should have known”.
Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the 24 women suing Deshaun Watson, says he is adding the Houston Texans as defendants in the suits. “What has become clear is that the Houston Texans organization and their contracting “massage therapy company” facilitated Watson’s conduct.” pic.twitter.com/pwR93T3o7v
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) June 8, 2022
So, there you have it. The net cast continues to widen. In hindsight especially, but even in foresight, it’s certainly not surprising that his employers would ultimately become subject of the lawsuit as well. Much of this is fact, affirmed under oath by Watson himself, such as the existence of the NDA and where it came from.
The question is, what does the NFL do about it? They are not beholden to any “beyond a reasonable doubt” measure. It is becoming increasingly hard to imagine how they could escape immense public pressure if they fail to suspend him for anything less than an entire season, if not more, as new information continues to emerge making everything out to be even worse than previously known—provided that all the allegations are true.