Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said during a news conference Friday that he will file five additional civil lawsuits against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson “in due course,” bringing the total number of cases up. to 12 for inappropriate behavior and sexual assault.
Buzbee also said she has spoken with “more than 10 additional women” who have reported similar behavior by Watson after the encounters.
Buzbee said Watson’s alleged misconduct occurred as recently as this month, which was after the first time Buzbee said he spoke with Watson’s attorney, Scott Gaffield. Since then, Watson has hired Houston attorney Rusty Hardin.
Buzbee said Friday that his office has contacted police and will provide information on the women who are seeking to sue Watson. He also said he is not aware of any police reports filed prior to the civil suits.
“That will be our next step,” Buzbee said.
Buzbee confirmed that Watson’s representatives have known about the allegations for more than a month.
“In fact, we had contact with Deshaun Watson’s agent / attorney from Los Angeles, who downplayed these allegations, and did not take them seriously,” Buzbee said. “We wanted to resolve this issue without a lawsuit, without publicity. We knew that once we filed a lawsuit, Texas, of course, has an open court provision in the constitution, so all lawsuits are public. We wanted to avoid that.”
Following Buzbee’s announcement of the first lawsuit on Tuesday, Watson responded on Twitter saying that he rejected “an unfounded six-figure settlement lawsuit” and that it is about “clearing my name, and I hope to.” At the time of his statement, Watson said he had not seen the first lawsuit.
“I have never treated any woman with anything but the utmost respect,” Watson said in her statement.
At Friday’s press conference, Buzbee said “at least” one of the women alleging sexual assault was referred to him by Texans. He said Quincy Avery, Watson’s coach and quarterback personal trainer, had referred Watson to one of the women.
Buzbee said that when he filed the first lawsuit Tuesday night, he was only representing two women. Since then, the other women have come forward.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Thursday that “the matter is under review” of the league’s personal conduct policy, and the Texans said they would remain in close contact with the NFL during the league’s investigation. Buzbee said he has not had any contact with the Texans and that the only contact with the NFL has been the letter he received from Lisa Friel, the league’s special investigative counsel.
Buzbee has yet to respond directly to the NFL’s request to interview him and his clients, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder, though he promised to cooperate at his press conference. NFL protocol would also involve an eventual interview with Watson.
Under the terms of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Watson could be punished if the league determines the allegations to be true, regardless of the outcome in court, but a source told Werder that it is premature to discuss what the allegations could. mean for the future of Watson.
While it has been speculated that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could place Watson on the exempt list, it is not believed to be a current option because the NFL offseason has begun and was designed to eliminate players. facing possible disciplinary action from practices and games.
The seven lawsuits filed so far represent a pattern of sexual assault against massage therapists in the Houston area. A woman alleges that she was forced to perform oral sex during the course of the massage. While six of the lawsuits allege that these were unique encounters with Watson, one woman alleges that Watson sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions. That lawsuit says the first massage was booked through the spa where the licensed esthetician worked. The other six lawsuits allege that Watson first asked about massage through Instagram direct messages.
Three of the four lawsuits filed Thursday night accuse him of inappropriate contact; the fourth said he tried to forcibly kiss a woman.
“Watson’s behavior is part of a disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable women,” says the fourth lawsuit.
All the women who have filed lawsuits against Watson thus far have done so anonymously. Many of them allege that they were intimidated by his physical stature and his status as an NFL quarterback.
Buzbee said Friday that three of the women his law firm represents “are in intensive care as a result of the defendant’s conduct.”
Watson’s agent, David Mulugheta, posted on Twitter on Friday.
“Sexual assault is real. Victims must be heard, offenders must be prosecuted,” Mulugheta posted on Friday. “Individuals often make up stories in search of financial gain. Their victims must be heard, and those criminals must be prosecuted as well. I just hope we maintain this same energy with the truth.”