An attorney representing embattled Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson questioned the sexual misconduct allegations facing his client on Tuesday by saying that the lawsuits from 16 unidentified women were filed only after a failed $30,000 blackmail attempt by one of the plaintiffs.
Watson now faces 16 lawsuits after nine more women filed in Harris County (Texas) court this week to accuse the 25-year-old quarterback of civil assault, intentional infliction of emotional stress, or sexual assault.
Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, alleged in a statement that his legal team has ‘strong evidence’ an accusation made by a woman they believe filed one of the lawsuits is false.
In her lawsuit, the woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex during a massage in December and that she ‘blacked out for a few minutes from the fear’ of her encounter with Watson, which left her ‘terrified.’ She also claims she defecated after the incident because she was so shaken.
Hardin alleges that in January, the woman demanded $30,000 in exchange for her ‘indefinite silence’ for a consensual encounter she had with Watson.
Hardin provided a sworn affidavit from Bryan Burney, Watson’s marketing manager, who claims the woman told him that she needed to be paid for her silence.
In his affidavit, Burney alleges he also spoke with the woman’s business manager and told him the demand for money ‘was extortion.’
‘He responded, “It’s not extortion, it’s blackmail,”‘ Burney said.
Hardin said the attempt to blackmail Watson ‘calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well.’
Watson has not been charged with any crimes. He issued a denial after the initial lawsuit was filed last week, saying he has ‘never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect.’
Hardin has called the allegations ‘meritless.’
Houston police and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office have declined to comment on the allegations. The NFL has said it’s investigating the allegations against Watson.
Tony Buzbee, who represents the 16 women, did not immediately return a call or email seeking comment on Tuesday.
‘Alleged sexual misconduct is serious. Attempting to criminalize or minimize those that speak out or step forward is wrong,’ Buzbee said in a statement posted Tuesday afternoon on his Facebook page.
He also claims to have a copy of a non-disclosure agreement that Watson allegedly asked several of the plaintiffs to sign.
‘We will also provide a copy of the non-disclosure agreement that Deshaun Watson and his marketing manager repeatedly insisted that Jane Doe (and others) sign after (and sometimes before) the “massage session,” which she refused to sign,’ Buzbee wrote.
At a news conference last week, Buzbee said the lawsuits aren’t about money as the women are suing for $500 in damages, the least that can be sought in a Texas civil district court.
Buzbee said last week the cases are about ‘female empowerment’ and the women filed their lawsuits ‘for one reason only, stopping further misconduct from this defendant and any others like him.’
The plaintiffs’ attorney also claims to have incriminating text messages from Watson to his accusers.
‘Sorry about you feeling uncomfortable,’ read one of Watson’s purported text messages, which Buzbee posted on Instagram. ‘Never were the intensions. Lmk if you want to work in the future. My apologies.’
In another text, purportedly sent by Watson ahead of an appointment, he asked the masseuse if she was ‘comfortable with the glute area.’
Hardin accused Buzbee of creating a ‘circus-like atmosphere by using social media’ to publicize the lawsuits. He said that Watson recognizes that ‘sexual assault and harassment are not only unlawful, but morally wrong.’
Hardin said that many massage therapists who have previously worked with Watson describe him as a ‘gentleman and a model client who never engaged in inappropriate conduct.’
The two most recent lawsuits in the case were filed on Tuesday. Seven others were filed on Monday while the rest were filed last week. The lawsuits allege most of the assaults took place in Houston, while one happened in Atlanta and another in Beverly Hills, California. The first alleged assault took place in March 2020, with the most recent allegations supposedly taking place earlier this month.
The women accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will while he got a massage. Two of the women are also claiming that he forced them to perform oral sex on him, while one says he offered to pay for a sexual encounter.
‘Watson is in the sex trade,’ read one of the 16 lawsuits obtained by DailyMail.com. ‘He needs to be stopped.’
Buzbee has said he planned to submit evidence from several of the women to authorities but it’s unclear if that has happened.
Watson is one of the league’s top quarterbacks and led the NFL in yards passing last season. He signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension with the Texans last offseason, but he became unhappy with the direction of the team as Houston sunk to 4-12. Watson requested a trade in January.
In one of this week’s filings, Watson is accused of harassing and assaulting a masseuse on two occasions.
In June of 2020, Watson allegedly booked a private session at the hotel where he was staying and surprised the masseuse by grabbing her midsection, including her vagina, and pushing her buttocks into her face.
Watson allegedly said, ‘I thought you liked that,’ to which the masseuse said she told him that she did not.
Also during the massage, Watson maneuvered his body so that his exposed penis came into contact with her hand, which is a claim made by the other accusers. At one point, she says, she noticed a ‘slimy substance,’ but did not recognize immediately what it was.
Watson paid her only $100 instead of the $300 she was owed. He allegedly told the plaintiff’s manager that she had not given him what he wanted.
He scheduled another appointment with her on August 17, 2020, although she did not immediately recognize who it was when he contacted her over instagram.
The masseuse said she was instructed to dress ‘chill’ and ‘comfortable’ for the session, and Watson allegedly asked to make sure the spa would be empty when he was there.
Upon his arrival, the masseuse quickly remembered their June interaction and told him that he had been inappropriate the last time. Watson is said to have apologized and told her that he had never been rejected by a woman before.
The plaintiff says she told Watson that she is a lesbian and uninterested in him sexually.
During the massage, she says, Watson insisted that she work his buttocks, and even asked her to use more oil before forcing her hands inside his own anus. The plaintiff said she was shocked by this.
Watson allegedly told her: ‘I can tell you are a lesbian because you are so good with your hands.’
He then began commenting on her body and even pulled her close, telling her that he wanted to have an orgasm with her in the room.
She says she asked him to stop acting like a pervert, but was becoming frightened because they were the only two in the spa.
Later, she says, Watson forced her mouth onto his penis, which she said left her fearing for her life.
Eventually, Watson began masturbating in front of her.
The woman said she was humiliated and horrified by the incident.
One of the women who sued Watson on Thursday said he became aroused during a massage and tried to move in a way to force her to touch his penis. Eventually, she claims, Watson ejaculated in front of her, prompting the woman to stop the session and leave the room.
In another lawsuit, an esthetician claims that Watson offered her a massage at their first session, which she declined, and he later insisted she stayed in the room while he undressed.
He allegedly told her to focus on his thighs and buttocks and eventually flipped back over, at which point he was allegedly erect and completely exposed. She says she told Watson that he was being inappropriate.
At another appointment in October, the esthetician says, Watson asked her to touch his penis and even tried to kiss her before she abruptly ended the session. Watson promptly left afterwards.
Yet another woman who sued Watson on Thursday said he told her that he makes ‘a lot of massage therapists uncomfortable’ and it’s really hard for him to find someone who will ‘meet [his] needs.’
That masseuse said Watson asked to wash before one session, which she said was fine and instructed him to cover up when he exited the shower. However, according to the filing obtained by DailyMail.com, Watson allegedly was completely exposed when he returned and refused her insistence that he put on a towel.
Watson later exposed his penis to the woman several times during the session and even joked that she could move it if it was in the way, according to the filing.
In a filing from Wednesday, Watson was also accused of forcing one woman to perform oral sex on him. She says she never consented and actually ‘blacked out for a few minutes from the fear,’ according to the filing obtained by DailyMail.com. That plaintiff also says she was so shaken that she defecated and needed to go to the bathroom to clean herself.
His first accuser, who filed on March 16, said Watson contacted her over Instagram in March of 2020 and after arriving at her home, made it clear that he wanted to have a sexual encounter, according to the filing obtained by DailyMail.com.
Watson allegedly guided the woman’s hands towards his genitals at several points during the massage before exposing his erect penis. The plaintiff says he then ‘purposely touched [her] hand with the tip,’ according to the filing.
The woman, saying she was ‘shocked and mortified,’ claims she promptly ended the massage and began to cry.
She also says that Watson made a veiled threat, telling her: ‘I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.’
Later, she says, Watson offered an apology over text message.
The masseuse is seeking unspecified damages due to the ‘mental anguish’ she suffered as a result of the alleged incident.
His second accuser, also identified as ‘Jane Doe,’ says he contacted her through Instagram in August of 2020 and arranged for a private session at his Houston-area hotel suite. It was there, on August 28, that Watson allegedly exposed himself and refused to cover up, saying he ‘gets hot easily’. He later touched her hand with his penis, she claims.
That plaintiff also says he tried to direct her hands towards his anus and even requested she apply oil to the area, according to the filing obtained by DailyMail.com.
The woman says she began crying and ended the massage, at which point she ordered an Uber so she could be driven to the airport and fly back to her home in Atlanta. Watson, she says, paid only half of what she was owed and later attempted to contact her again, but she did not respond.
A third accuser, who was newly engaged and just out of chiropractic school at the time of the alleged incident, says she and Watson agreed to meet at a Houston office building on December 28 and 10am.
Upon arriving, the woman says she was asked by Watson to massage his ‘inner thighs’ and ‘inner glutes.’ Watson ‘got more aggressive’ according to the woman and ultimately ‘coerced [Jane Doe] to move her mouth toward his penis, forcing [Jane Doe] to perform oral sex on him.’
The masseuse said she never consented and was so fearful that she ‘blacked out for a few minutes.’
Although the woman claims she was terrified of the larger Watson, who stands 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, she says he seemed unaffected by the ordeal and left as though nothing had happened.
It was then, she says, that she defecated herself because she was so shaken over what had transpired.