As of March 18, Houston-based attorney Tony Buzbee had filed three lawsuits against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on behalf of three massage therapists alleging inappropriate conduct and sexual assault. Now, Buzbee has filed a total of seven suits, and as Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com writes, at least five more will be on the way.
No criminal charges or complaints have been filed against Watson, but according to Barshop, Buzbee is pushing to change that. The attorney plans to submit affidavits and evidence concerning the alleged misconduct to the Houston Police Department and the Houston DA on Monday morning, and he will also request that a grand jury consider the evidence.
Obviously, that is part of Buzbee’s effort to increase his leverage in his civil suits, and the fact that he is submitting affidavits and evidence to the DA’s office does not mean that the DA will believe those materials represent probable cause to initiate criminal proceedings. Still, it’s clear that this matter is not going away, and Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, says a response is forthcoming, via Mark Berman of Fox 26:
“I’m extremely proud to represent Deshaun Watson and wholly stand behind him against what we believe are meritless allegations. However, we will wait to comment in detail until we’ve completed our review of the numerous, evolving allegations from Mr. Buzbee. We will respond next week and ask you to keep an open mind until we do so.”
Up until the suits were filed, Watson had been all over the headlines for football-related reasons. He and the Texans were playing a game of chicken over the three-time Pro Bowler’s trade demand, and as of March 19 — even after the seventh lawsuit — Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reported that several clubs remained interest in swinging a trade for Watson. That includes, the Eagles, whose interest had not been reported previously.
“We need to know more facts before making a firm decision on a trade, but, yes, we’re still interested,” said one NFL executive. “How could you not be interested in Deshaun Watson possibly being your quarterback? The guy is an incredible talent.”
Said another exec, per Wilson:
“What Deshaun Watson has been accused of obviously doesn’t match up at all with what we’ve heard and know about him as a really great person, but you can’t ignore these serious allegations. What that means is making sure you’re doing your homework and making sure you have all the facts before you get heavily involved in trade negotiations. There’s the NFL investigation, the court stuff and you have to let it all play out and make an informed decision. Yes, we’re still very interested in Deshaun Watson. What he has done on the field checks every box for quarterback play.”
If these allegations are not resolved in Watson’s favor in short order, you can expect that interested teams will stop their pursuit of the Texans’ signal-caller.