'He doesn’t have a lot of moves to make': Six questions in the Deshaun Watson lawsuits

Sports

USA TODAY 21 April, 2021 - 07:33am 15 views

Who is Deshaun Watson's girlfriend?

However, Watson made an appearance – or at least the back of his head did – in an Instagram photo posted by girlfriend Jilly Anais, who has more than 2.7 million followers on the social media platform. ChronDeshaun Watson makes appearance in girlfriend’s Instagram photo

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

But on Monday, Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, took things even lower, and not only showed no regard for many of the alleged victims, he potentially put them in the crosshairs of danger.

Last week, a Texas judge ruled that under state law the women suing Watson could not retain their anonymity if they wanted to move forward. All agreed to press on, attaching their names to their legal claims.

And Hardin, now armed with those names, sent out a statement to media on Monday calling all of the women liars. Because that's what happens all too often: Women who make accusations of sexual assault or misconduct immediately are the ones facing the questions. What did they do to provoke the unwanted behavior? What were they wearing? Blah blah blah. It's why so many women keep their own sexual traumas a secret.

Hardin's official legal response attached at least some of those names to counter-allegations that they bragged about their encounters with Watson, or worked with Watson multiple times despite their claims, or lied about the trauma they say they've suffered since their session with Watson. 

But that's not the really gross and potentially dangerous part.

No, the really gross part, and the thing he did with no regard to their personal safety, was that Hardin emailed all of it — the statement and the legal filing — directly to reporters. Under normal circumstances, a reporter that knows their way around the legal system would have to search for such a filing and likely cough up a couple of dollars to access it.

And many of those reporters did exactly what Hardin was hoping they'd do: posted screenshots of the documents directly to Twitter, where bad actors had immediate access to names of the alleged victims and could harass them (or worse).

Yes, the women had to surrender their anonymity, and yes, that meant they could have been found.

But as I've been told, most crimes are crimes of opportunity. If you're a Watson fan who is angry that the player who has been careful to present himself to the world as a charitable, smiling guy is facing these accusations, and if you want some sort of revenge — the kind of thing, so we're clear, that Watson would never do for you were the tables turned — it became a hell of a lot easier to reach out to those women when a media corps more concerned with access than substance and proper journalistic behavior dutifully re-shared their names into the ether.

An ethical journalist wouldn't publicize the alleged victims' names until the case had advanced to the discovery phase. Right now, these cases are in the early stages, with the two sides trading accusations and all of it getting increasingly ugly in their posturing.

For the public at large, had they been required to search for the legal documents or fork up some money to get the names, maybe their rage would be confined to tweets from a troll account.

Now, however, the opportunity is there to personally harass these women. Look them up. Threaten them with death or rape, or show up on their doorstep because they've hurt an NFL player you've never met before.

It's what Ashley Solis, the licensed massage therapist who was the first to accuse Watson of sexual misconduct, has dealt with since so bravely going public and putting her name and her face to her claim.

And now more women, who have come forward to say that they were forced into sexual acts or made to feel violated and uncomfortable when they were just doing their job, are likely facing the same heinous abuse.

If one of those women is injured by a Watson superfan, will Watson or Hardin care? If one of those women hurts herself because of an onslaught of hatred and threats, will either of those men be moved at all? 

If one of the women is lying, there are legal ways for her to be penalized for doing so. She should not have to fear an unending stream of abuse or even physical assault because of it.

And if that happens and the women are telling the truth, they've victimized again. For seeking justice.

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Deshaun Watson’s girlfriend, Jilly Anais, posts defiant photo amid accusations against QB

Fox News 21 April, 2021 - 03:01pm

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Deshaun Watson’s relationship with longtime girlfriend Jilly Anais is going strong amid allegations of sexual misconduct from 22 women in ongoing civil lawsuits against the NFL quarterback.

After briefly stepping away from social media, the model and singer, 25, sent a strong statement about the couple’s relationship status on Monday — implying to her near 3-million Instagram followers that she’s sticking by Watson’s side through the legal situation.

In a series of new photos from a weekend getaway with friends, Anais is pictured raising two middle fingers and a mean mug to the camera. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans quarterback, also in the photo, looked away from the camera as he hugged his girlfriend from behind while on a jet ski.

Anais captioned the post, writing, "No service inside the mountains, no reaching me.."

Watson has been with Anais for years, following her tumultuous split from Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray in 2018.

Watson threw Anais a rose-filled, surprise party for her 25th birthday in January, with her closest friends and family.

The social media post also marked the first time Anais has seemingly reacted to the disturbing news surrounding Watson. Before that, she limited the comments on her Instagram and did not share a statement or any posts with Watson amid the civil suits.

Since publicly denying the first sexual assault allegation that emerged in March, Watson has only spoken out through his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, who has denied any and all accusations.

On Monday, Watson formally shot back at his 22 accusers calling the accusations a "money grab" scheme in his overall response to the civil cases.

Hardin, who spoke on behalf of his client, maintained Watson’s innocence and claimed all 22 of his accusers are lying about allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment.

Watson has not been charged criminally and the NFL opened an investigation into Watson’s conduct on March 18.

Nike suspended its contract with Watson on April 7 — one day after two of the accusers gave public statements describing their allegations.

Watson’s deal with Apple’s Beats By Dre reportedly will not be renewed

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Deshaun Watson’s Attorney Directly Accuses All 22 Plaintiffs of Lying About Sexual Misconduct Allegations in Detailed Response to Civil Lawsuits

Sportscasting 21 April, 2021 - 03:01pm

On Monday, Watson’s legal team filed an official response to the accusations made against the 25-year-old. And in his own statement, attorney Rusty Hardin directly accused all the plaintiffs of lying.

Just a few months ago, it looked like Deshaun Watson would get his wish of finding a new NFL home. However, that plan quickly fell apart once his name got connected to sexual misconduct allegations.

On March 16, a Houston-based massage therapist filed the first civil lawsuit against the Texans quarterback. Watson denied the claims made by attorney Tony Buzbee’s client. Three days later, Buzbee said nine more civil suits had been filed against one of the NFL’s most popular stars.

The situation took another turn on April 3 when the Houston Police Department revealed it had begun conducting an investigation after a complainant filed a criminal report concerning the Texans signal-caller.

It didn’t take long for several sponsors to part ways with Watson. On April 7, Nike suspended his endorsement deal.

“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” the company said in a statement.

Beats By Dre completely cut ties with him altogether. Reliant Energy dropped Watson as a brand ambassador. And with the quarterback facing 22 civil lawsuits, his football future remains firmly in doubt.

On Monday, Deshaun Watson’s legal team filed its response to the allegations made against him. According to ESPN, the document says the lawsuits are “replete with mischaracterizations of [his] conduct” and that they range from “being misleading, to fradulent, to slanderous.”

In addition, Watson’s legal response states seven plaintiffs “willingly worked or offered to work with Mr. Watson after their alleged incidents.” The document also says five plaintiffs told other people they wanted to get money out of the young NFL star.

The filing contains detailed rebuttals to the plaintiffs’ allegations. One section also points out that at least four of Watson’s accusers have altered their social media accounts since their names became public to remove pictures “that are inconsistent with the image they portray through their petitions.”

Furthermore, Rusty Hardin released a statement of his own in which he made it quite clear where Watson’s legal team stands on the situation.

“Mr. Watson has been adamant that he did not engage in any improper conduct and we strongly believe him,” the statement read. “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.”

According to a source at least 2 of the women who’ve filed civil lawsuits against Deshaun Watson have agreed to meet with NFL investigator Lisa Friel via Zoom & additional women involved in the lawsuits agreed to meet w/ HPD. Attorney Tony Buzbee confirmed without further comment

Not long after Deshaun Watson’s legal team issued its response and formally requested a trial by jury, the story took another turn.

Mark Berman of FOX 26 reported via Twitter that at least two of the women who have filed civil lawsuits against Watson have agreed to meet with the NFL. League investigator Lisa Friel will speak with the plaintiffs via Zoom. Berman also said additional women involved in the lawsuits have agreed to meet with the Houston Police Department.

Of course, Watson could face discipline from the NFL if the investigation determines he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. Only time will tell if his current legal situation will have an effect on his future availability. But with the way the last few months have gone, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a new starting quarterback in Houston this season.

Deshaun Watson's attorney files response to 22 lawsuits

KPRC 2 Click2Houston 21 April, 2021 - 03:01pm

Deshaun Watson's attorney accuses 22 women suing his client for sexual misconduct of lying

Daily Mail 21 April, 2021 - 03:01pm

By Alex Raskin Sports News Editor For Dailymail.com and Reuters

In a legal response filed Monday in Texas, the attorney for Deshaun Watson characterized the 22 sexual misconduct lawsuits his client faces as 'an avalanche of false accusations' and says his investigators have learned that many of the plaintiffs are misrepresenting their interactions with the 25-year-old Houston Texans quarterback.

Attorney Rusty Hardin made Watson's case in a response filed Monday to the 22 lawsuits pending against Watson in Harris County, Texas. One woman withdrew her case out of privacy concerns once the court ordered the names of the accusers to be part of their individual civil suits last week, but another woman soon filed a sexual misconduct lawsuit of her own to keep the total at 22.

'We and Mr. Watson take allegations of sexual misconduct against women very seriously, as we all should,' Hardin said in a separate statement he released Monday afternoon. '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.'

In a legal response filed Monday in Texas , the attorney for Deshaun Watson (pictured) characterized the 22 sexual misconduct lawsuits his client faces as 'an avalanche of false accusations' and says his investigators have learned that many of the plaintiffs are misrepresenting their interactions with the 25-year-old Houston Texans quarterback

Watson attorney Rusty Hardin said his client only engaged in consensual sexual encounters

The court filing summarizes Watson's side of the story and states that after massage therapy sessions with Watson, eight plaintiffs 'bragged about, praised, and were excited about massaging Mr. Watson.'

Another seven, the filing contends, 'willingly worked or offered to work with Mr. Watson after their alleged incidents,' three more 'lied about the number of times they actually worked with Watson,' three 'lied about their alleged trauma and resulting harm,' and five more 'told others they wanted to get money' from Watson.

'It was not until the plaintiffs saw an opportunity for a money grab that they changed their stories to convert therapy sessions they bragged about to friends and family to something much more nefarious,' the response alleges.

Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 plaintiffs, responded with a statement on Monday.

'As fully anticipated and despite his lawyer's previous statements, Deshaun Watson's only defense is to call these brave women liars,' read Buzbee's statement.

'The weak and vague allegations made in Defendant's response are demonstrably false,' he continued. 'Watson can't deny he sought out an unusually high number of women for massages on Instagram; he doesn't deny he insisted on being nude or nearly nude; he can't deny the massage sessions occurred; he can't deny he wanted more than a ''massage''; and he hasn't credibly denied that something bad happened during the session—he instead claims that any sexual acts were consensual.

'Of course his definition of ''consent'' doesn't comport with that of everyone else. I have faith that the court process will sort out the truth as these matters progress.'

The 25-year-old Watson, in a statement after the first lawsuit was filed on March 21, denied all allegations. Hardin doubled down on that Monday in his own statement.

'Only two of these 22 lawsuits alleged forced sexual activity, which Mr. Watson vehemently denies,' Hardin said. 'In the case of Shenee Lawson, her business manager acknowledged to Mr. Watson's marketing manager that the contact was consensual, but she still wanted money.

'And in the case of Marchelle Davis, witnesses state that Ms. Davis was happy and excited after she massaged Mr. Watson. ... In addition, she told witnesses that if Mr. Watson had paid her off, she would have supported him instead of suing him.'

Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 plaintiffs, responded with a statement on Monday. 'As fully anticipated and despite his lawyer's previous statements, Deshaun Watson's only defense is to call these brave women liars,' read Buzbee's statement

The NFL is continuing with its own investigation into the women's allegations.

The plaintiffs, most of who work as massage therapists or in other similar professions, filed separate lawsuits as Jane Does between March 16 and April 14, claiming that Watson exposed himself, attempted to coerce them into sex, and in some cases, touched them with his penis during private sessions.

Two of the women also sued for sexual assault, claiming Watson forced them to perform oral sex on him.

Buzbee had been reluctant to reveal the plaintiffs' identifies over concerns for their safety, but according to his statement on Tuesday, his firm always intended to disclose their names to the court.

'[The Buzbee Law Firm] previously attempted to make available to Defense Counsel the names of the plaintiffs suing Deshaun Watson, and intended to do so in due course,' read Buzbee's statement.

'We were concerned about the safety of these plaintiffs, and asked the Watson team to agree to a protective order where the identities could be used in litigation, but not broadcast to the world,' the statement continued.

Buzbee has submitted evidence of threats that were sent to Solis over social media, email, and text messages.

'Ur a b**** for suing Deshaun,' read one message. 'We both know he didn't do s*** to u... I hope u get raped later in ur life.'

Despite Buzbee's insistence that he intended to reveal the plaintiffs' names to the court, Hardin said in a statement last week that the accusers' attorney actually refused to do so.

'While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword,' Hardin said in a statement on Thursday. 'While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.'

Hardin has called the claims against Watson 'meritless' and has alleged they were made following a failed attempt to blackmail his client for $30,000. He previously accused the plaintiffs of being motivated by financial gain, saying that Solis originally sought a $100,000 settlement from his client.

Solis responded to that accusation during her press conference last week.

'People say I'm doing this just for money,' Solis said. 'That is false. I come forward now in hopes Deshaun Watson does not hurt another woman.

'We were all deceived into thinking Deshaun Watson was a good guy, and unfortunately we know that good guys can do terrible things,' she added.

Hardin has shared statements from 18 other female massage therapists, who say that Watson acted appropriately during their private sessions.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson currently faces 22 lawsuits accusing him of various sexual misconduct.

The plaintiffs, most of who work as massage therapists or in other similar professions, filed separate lawsuits as Jane Does last month, claiming that Watson exposed himself, attempted to coerce them into sex, and in some cases, touched them with his penis during private sessions. Two of the women also sued for sexual assault, claiming Watson forced them to perform oral sex on him.

Now all of the plaintiffs have agreed to be identified after two Harris County (Texas) judges ordered 13 of the Jane Does to publicly disclose their names last week.

The following are Watson's accusers who have been identified so far: 

Ashley Solis (left) has said she now struggles to continue working as a massage therapist after Deshaun Watson (not pictured) exposed himself during his massage in March of 2020 before adjusting his position to force his erect penis into her hand

One of those massage therapists backed up Hardin's claim last week, telling Houston's KHOU that Watson behaved appropriately when he was her client.

'Deshaun Watson has never asked me for any sexual favors,' massage therapist Jasmine Brooks said. 'He's never harassed me. He's never coerced me into anything at all. He's always been super quiet.'

Brooks no longer works with with Watson, but said that has nothing to do with his behavior during their sessions.

Watson is not denying having sex with some of his massage therapists, but all of the encounters were consensual, according to Hardin.

Hardin did not put a number on the frequency of the sexual encounters, but did estimate his client gets between 120 and 150 professional massages a year.

One of Watson's former massage therapists told Houston's KHOU that he behaved when he was her client. 'Deshaun Watson has never asked me for any sexual favors,' massage therapist Jasmine Brooks (pictured) said. 'He's never harassed me. He's never coerced me into anything at all. He's always been super quiet.' Brooks no longer works with with Watson, but said that has nothing to do with his behavior during their sessions

'On some occasions, some sexual activities would have taken place,' Hardin said. 'I'm not going into what it is or the nature or the numbers or with whom but I think you can rightfully assume that.

'Never at any time, under any circumstances… did this young man ever engage in anything that was not mutually desired by the other party.'

According to Solis's filing, which was obtained by DailyMail.com, Watson exposed himself during his massage in March of 2020 before adjusting his position to force his erect penis into her hand.

'Plaintiff abruptly ended the massage and asked Watson to leave her house,' read the filing.

Solis said she was in tears as Watson left. On his way out, she said, Watson told her: 'I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just as I don't want anyone messing with mine.'

'I replay the incident over and over in my head as if I'm trying to wake up for some horrible nightmare, only that nightmare is real,' she said Tuesday.

Later, Solis said, Watson reached out via text message to apologize for the incident, but she did not respond. Buzbee has since shared that alleged text message from Watson to Solis on social media.

'Sorry about you feeling uncomfortable,' read the text message. 'Never were the intensions. Lmk if you want to work in the future. My apologies.'

Buzbee has shared a text message that he claims was sent by Watson to apologize to Solis

Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations from 22 women

A Nike spokesman did not respond to DailyMail.com's question about the specifics of Watson's suspension, like whether the company will pull ads featuring the 25-year-old quarterback or withhold his pay. Beats by Dre (right), a headphone manufacturer, has dropped him entirely

Nike has since suspended its endorsement deal with Watson amid the allegations. He signed with the apparel company in 2017 for an undisclosed amount.

A Nike spokesman did not respond to DailyMail.com's question about the specifics of Watson's suspension, like whether the company will pull ads featuring the NFL star or withhold his pay.

Meanwhile Beats by Dre, a headphone manufacturer, has dropped Watson entirely, according to Front Office Sports.

Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, led the NFL in passing yards last season. he is currently signed to a four-year, $156 million deal with the Texans, but has been unhappy with the club and reportedly demanded a traded following Houston's 4-12 campaign in 2020.

The team has refused to trade him thus far.

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Texans Players Boycott: Voluntary Workouts Update

State of The Texans 21 April, 2021 - 03:01pm

But according to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson, multiple Texans players began participation in the team’s voluntary workouts on Monday. It is the stated position of the NFL teams that have commented that players' choices, in whatever direction, will be supported.

Of course, even before Monday's start of Phase One, some Texans were working inside the team QB.

“We’ve had a multitude of players that have been in here,” GM Nick Caserio said recently. “They come in the building, they test, they go in the weight room, they work out, they go through their process. So, again, whatever players are here that choose to participate, like that’s their choice and we are going to create as good of a working environment for the players as possible.''

Smith, via ESPN: "I think what a lot of players have said that they've heard from their coaches is that they need to show up. We've known for years that this is a voluntary workout where a lot of coaches put their finger on the scale and, while they call it voluntary, they expect players to show up.

"I think that what you're seeing now is for the first-time players exercising their voice ... to say 'no.'

About half of the league's 32 teams announced they would "say no'' to participating in voluntary workouts. Wilson was first to report those details as they relate to the Texans.

Many of the teams voting "no'' cited concerns over a lack of "adequate protocols" to return safely amid the ongoing COVID pandemic.

"Frankly,'' Smith said, "it's probably one of the few times that coaches have ever heard players say 'no.' And for some players, it's probably the first time they've said 'no' to their coach."

But in Houston, some players are saying "yes.''

How latest revelation in Watson saga impacts his standing with NFL

SportsMap Houston 20 April, 2021 - 07:06pm

Monday was a good day for Deshaun Watson and his team from a PR and legal standpoint. According to a document filed by Rusty Hardin, 7 plaintiffs willingly worked or offered to work with Watson after the alleged incidents, and 5 plaintiffs told others they wanted to get money out of Watson. From what we learned on Monday, how much does this help Deshaun Watson in the eyes of the league?

If you enjoy the content, be sure to hit like and subscribe on YouTube.

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reacts to the first official response from Watson's camp which makes the claim that all 22 plaintiffs are lying. Florio goes on to explain that some actions taken in cases like this are done for the benefit of the case, from a legal standpoint, and some are for the benefit of the media. Mike explains in the video above why this move falls in the latter category.

Floiro also points out that calling the plaintiffs liars can have an impact on the case that the common person may not realize. Florio worked as a lawyer for many years, and he knows that the aggressive tactics and accusations from Watson's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, could cause some of the plaintiffs to call lawyer Tony Buzbee worried about the state of the case, which could make them more likely to want to settle. Check out the video to learn more.

'All 22 Women Are Lying': Texans QB Deshaun Watson Lawyer

State of The Texans 20 April, 2021 - 10:35am

'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 have been careful in choosing our words in covering the case of the Houston Texans star and the accusations of sexual assault he is facing.

But Watson is now using the term "money grab.'' And Hardin is using terms like “misleading, to fraudulent, to slanderous.”

Watson, 25, has his football career in limbo as he is facing over 20 allegations of sexual assault and misconduct as the proceedings continue. Hardin, though, asserts that he's found more information to defend the Houston Texans quarterback's assertions of innocence.

It was on Monday when Hardin's staff filed its response to allegations of sexual misconduct against the football star. In the response, multiple claims suggest that several women have fabricated their experiences with Watson, stating that seven women even offered to work with Watson again after their alleged encounters.

Hardin also released a personal statement to illustrate his belief that all 22 women are lying about the allegations against Watson.

"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 (attorney Tony) Buzbee and his clients until we could responsibly investigate," Hardin said in a release. "In the few days since his accusers' names have been revealed, as well as required by Texas law, we are discovering an avalanche of false accusations."

According to the defense's findings, Hardin stated that three plaintiffs lied on the numbers of sessions they had with Watson. Five more have told others they want to get money from Watson.

Thus, Watson's "money grab'' remark in his official defense, which reads in part:

“It was not until the plaintiffs saw an opportunity for a money grab that they changed their stories to convert therapy sessions they bragged about to friends and family to something much more nefarious.”

In the report, it states that multiple women have also deleted or altered their social media accounts, to which Hardin says they have "scrubbed" evidence away.

The attorney for the accusers, Tony Buzbee commented on the situation Monday afternoon, stating that Hardin's firm has not proven anything, but rather merely just questioned the women's credibility.

"As fully anticipated and despite his lawyer’s previous statements, Deshaun Watson’s only defense is to call these brave women liars," Buzbee said in a statement. "The weak and vague allegations made in Defendant’s response are demonstrably false."

The NFL has launched an investigation into Watson under its personal conduct policy. TexansDaily.com will continue to keep you up to date with the proceedings moving forward. 

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