The Cleveland Browns are sitting at 2-3 with Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback while Deshaun Watson, he of the king’s ransom and sex offender’s reputation, serves an 11-game suspension to start his first season with the club. He was permitted to rejoin the team this week on a limited basis, but may not play in games for another six.
The former Pro Bowler had dozens of civil sexual misconduct lawsuits hanging over his head for the better part of the year before settling nearly all of them much later than almost everybody thinks that he should have. As part of the settlement that spared him a season-long suspension, it was agreed that no new ‘like’ accusations from the period of his original allegations would be considered for further discipline.
That was a wise—or at least knowledgeable—compromise on his part, because he is now facing yet another civil sexual misconduct lawsuit. This new suit filed by a Jane Doe is not part of the 24 women who are represented by attorney Tony Buzbee, according to Claire Geary and Camryn Justice for News 5 Cleveland. This new accuser is being represented by an attorney by the name of Anissah M. Nguyen.
The allegations from the women ranged from unwanted and unsolicited sexual overtures to rape. The latest accuser alleges that Watson solicited her for sex after, as had been his pattern, contacting her via social media for professional massage therapy services. When she refused, her suit reads, Watson manages to “pressure her into oral sex”.
As mentioned, this latest lawsuit will have no bearing on the status of Watson’s reinstatement following his 11-game suspension, because the initial appeal allowed for the occurrence of new allegations from dates in the past that were of like circumstance. I suppose when you deal in bulk, each individual case feels less weighty. Even though this lawsuit does not affect his reinstatement, he must still be cleared before he can return.
The Browns made the decision to trade for Watson knowing full well that he was facing numerous civil lawsuits, and knowing that more were likely to come. They not only gave up very substantial draft capital, but also handed him an unprecedented fully-guaranteed five-year contract worth $230 million.
Their decision, of course, has been widely criticized, but the expectation was that his (eventual) on-field performance would justify the backlash, and would even quiet much of it down. If it doesn’t, then, well…
With this new lawsuit, then, Watson still faces two ongoing civil lawsuits alleging some degree of sexual impropriety. Nguyen is hoping to depose the quarterback for the latest suit before the end of the year, which could potentially conflict with the resumption of his playing career.
Although he is back in the facility, he is still not permitted to practice with the team until November 14. Despite apologizing to “all of the women I have impacted”, he has consistently maintained his innocence and the falsehood of the claims made against him in the lawsuits.