X

Deshaun Watson Files Response to Civil Lawsuits After Plaintiffs Identified

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2021

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson walks off the field after the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Attorneys for Deshaun Watson filed a response Monday to the 22 sexual assault and misconduct lawsuits filed against him, accusing some of the women of lying about their encounters or bragging about extorting the Houston Texans quarterback. 

Aaron Reiss of The Athletic obtained a copy of the filing:

"Today we answered the lawsuits filed against our client Deshaun Watson. Mr. Watson has been adamant that he did not engage in any improper conduct and we strongly believe him," Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement. "Therefore, the answer to the question of whether we are saying that all 22 plaintiffs are lying about the allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Watson is a resounding yes.

"We and Mr. Watson take allegations of sexual misconduct against women very seriously, as we all should. We have waited to respond to the numerous allegations made by Mr. Buzbee and his clients until we could responsibly investigate. In the few days since his accusers’ names have been revealed, as was required by Texas law, we are discovering an avalanche of false accusations.

"... I hope everyone will take a fair and measured look at these accusations as we go forward in these cases. We certainly welcome anyone with relevant information to contact us."

Watson's attorneys had asked for the women suing him to be identified in their lawsuits. Two judges ruled in their favor earlier this month, and 21 of the original 22 lawsuits were amended to include names. One of the original lawsuits was dropped by a woman who cited privacy reasons, while another was filed by a different woman, bringing the total back up to 22.

All of the women were hired to provide massage services for Watson and say he acted inappropriately and in two cases allegedly forced oral sex, while the others allege he exposed himself and touched the women with his penis without consent.

Watson has denied any inappropriate action, and Hardin said in a press conference this month that any sexual acts that took place were consensual:

"Our first [statement] has always been about consent — that on some occasions some active sexual activity would have taken place. ... I'm not going to go into what it is or the nature [of the physical contact] or the numbers or with whom. But I think you can rightfully assume that.

"The question always that we have always been emphasizing is never at any time, under any circumstances, did this young man engage in anything that was not mutually desired by the other party."

One of the women who filed a civil lawsuit against Watson, Ashley Solis, held a press conference this month that detailed her allegations. Solis said she has suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks since her encounter with Watson.

"I can no longer practice the profession I love the most without my hands shaking during the session. I got into massage therapy to heal people. To heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that," Solis said.

Several corporate sponsors, including Nike and Beats By Dre, have severed or suspended their relationships with Watson in light of the allegations.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said the accusations against Watson are "deeply disturbing." The NFL has launched an investigation under its personal conduct policy.