Deshaun Watson Must Detail Sexual History with Other Massage Therapists, Judge Rules

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2022

Cleveland Browns new quarterback Deshaun Watson speaks during a news conference at the NFL football team's training facility, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
AP Photo/Ron Schwane

A Texas judge ruled Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson must answer questions about whether he had sex with other massage therapists as part of the 22 civil lawsuits filed against him by women alleging sexual assault, harassment or misconduct.

Watson's defense team filed an objection Tuesday asking Harris County District Court Judge Rabeea Sultan Collier to remove that line of questioning from the discovery process, but she ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, whose legal team said it's an effort to establish a pattern of behavior, per Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today.

"We will continue to force Mr. Watson to answer our questions and reveal the full parameters of his conduct," Tony Buzbee, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told USA Today.

The plaintiffs' legal team has sought "requests for admission" from Watson about whether he had sex with other massage therapists as part of the pre-trial process. Eighteen massage therapists publicly supported him after the allegations in the civil lawsuits became public last year, and they will be included as part of the questioning, per Schrotenboer.

Watson's attorney Leah Graham called it a "fishing expedition" during Tuesday's court hearing but plaintiffs attorney Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey argued they're trying to show clear intent that he "went to massage therapy sessions intending to have sex, intending to do something else, not have a massage."

Brandfield-Harvey called it the "heart of this case."

Watson has vowed to fight the allegations against him since a statement posted on Twitter in March 2021 after the lawsuits were filed:

Deshaun Watson @deshaunwatson

<a href="https://t.co/ZVb2R2mFlc">pic.twitter.com/ZVb2R2mFlc</a>

Last month, two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges after reviewing evidence brought forward as part of 10 criminal complaints.

Shortly after the first grand jury's decision, Watson's blockbuster trade to the Cleveland Browns was announced March 20. The Browns also gave the quarterback a fully guaranteed $230 million contract extension following the deal with the Houston Texans.

"I know these allegations [are] very, very serious," Watson told reporters after the trade. "But I've never assaulted any woman. I never disrespected any woman."

He added there was still no intention to settle the lawsuits out of court because he "never did anything that these people are alleging."

Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed in late March there's still the potential for league discipline against Watson.

"That determination will be made by a joint disciplinary officer who's established by the NFLPA and the NFL," Goodell said. "So she will make that decision when the facts are all in, and we'll see. There's no timeframe on that."

It's possible the case involving the 22 civil lawsuits doesn't proceed to the trial phase until next year, according to USA Today.

Watson was a healthy inactive for the Texans throughout the entire 2021 season. The Browns haven't signaled how they plan to handle the situation if the civil lawsuits remains pending when the 2022 campaign gets underway in September.