Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson hit with ‘sex assault’ claims from TWELVE accusers as lawyer 'speaks to 22 women'
TWELVE women have now accused NFL star Deshaun Watson of sexual assault as their lawyer says as many as 10 more may soon follow suit.
Seven civil lawsuits have now been filed against the Houston Texas quarterback alleging inappropriate conduct and sexual assault, with five more expected to be filed by the close of Friday.
In a Friday press conference, the attorney representing all of Watson's accusers, Tony Buzbee, said he has also spoken to an additional 10 other women who've made 'similar claims' of sexual assault and misconduct.
"We are now representing 12 women and we will file 5 more cases in due course," Buzbee said. "We have spoken to more than 10 additional women, 22 women [in total]."
Buzbee said the allegations made by the 10 additional accusers are currently being investigated by his office, before they move forward with any potential legal proceedings.
Among the seven suits filed so far, one accuser claims Watson forced her to perform oral sex on him during an encounter in December 2020. Several others say he exposed himself to them during massage sessions.
Buzbee has praised his clients, calling them "brave women who are willing to come forward and be heard."
After the first of the allegations emerged earlier this week, Watson shared a statement to Twitter, denying the claims and insisting he has "never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect."
"As a result of a social media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff's lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me," Watson wrote on March 16.
"I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect."
He continued: "The plaintiff's lawyer claims that this isn't about money, but before filing the suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected.
"Unlike him, this isn't about money for me – it's about clearing my name and I look forward to doing that."
Responding to the latest allegations on Friday, Watson's agent, David Mulugheta, tweeted: "Sexual assault is real. Victims should be heard, offenders prosecuted.
"Individuals fabricate stories in pursuit of financial gain often. Their victims should be heard, and those offenders also prosecuted.
"I simply hope we keep this same energy with the truth," he concluded.
During his Friday press conference, Buzbee pushed back against Watson's assertions that the cases are motivated by money and fame-chasing.
"This case isn't about money. It's certainly not about seeking publicity or fame. I personally don't need it. These women don't want it. This case is about female empowerment, taking the power back," he said.
The attorney called Watson's first accuser a "very brave person"
and encouraged any other alleged victims to come forward, insisting "I want to hear your story".
Prior to the press conference, Buzbee posted two alleged screenshots of conversations between the accusers and Watson to Instagram on Thursday evening.
In the exchange, an account appearing to belong to Watson writes: "I'm more of a Swedish [massage] guy. Are you working tomorrow … Are you comfortable with the glute area."
In a second screenshot, a text pertained to have been sent by Watson to one of his accusers reads: "Sorry about you feeling uncomfortable. Never were the intentions. [Let me know] if you want to work in the future. My apologies."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN on Thursday said "the matter is under review" of the league's personal conduct policy.
The Texans said they would stay in close contact with the NFL during the league's investigation.
All seven of the cases filed so far paint a pattern of sexual assault against a massage therapist.
Six of the suits detail alleged one-time encounters with Watson, while one woman claims she was sexually assaulted by the quarterback multiple times.
In that lawsuit, the accuser claims she was booked as a masseuse for Watson through a spa where the licensed esthetician worked.
The other six claim Watson first inquired about their massage services through direct messages on Instagram.
One of the allegations stems from a December 28 incident, when the therapist claims to have given Watson a massage in a Houston office building.
The newly-engaged masseuse, who had just graduated from chiropractic school, claims Watson told her to focus massaging his "inner thighs" and "inner glutes".
She claims he "got more aggressive" and repeatedly told her to "move her hands down to his pubic area", the suit outlines.
"Plaintiff felt intimidated and threatened. She was afraid of what someone like Watson could do if she did not submit to his demands," the suit says.
"Watson kept coercing and intimidating plaintiff and it was at this point that Watson coerced plaintiff to move her mouth toward his penis, forcing plaintiff to perform oral sex on him."
Buzbee added that the young woman "wishes she could have been more courageous and would have ended the massage. But she felt helpless in the moment" and "was under Watson's control."
She also allegedly "blacked out for a few minutes from the fear," he said.
Two of the other accusers claim Watson exposed himself in massage sessions, also in Houston, on March 30 and August 28 of last year.
In the August incident, Watson is said to have "flipped over on his back, with his penis completely exposed."
That accuser, who says Watson flew her out from Atlanta to Texas, claims the football star refused to cover himself with a towel, prompting her to prematurely end the massage and call an Uber to take her to the airport.
She also was so "disturbed" by the encounter she did not reach out to Watson to seek the other half of the payment he owed.
The March 30 session, meanwhile, is said to have taken place at the plaintiff's home.
The woman claims she broke down in tears when Watson "exposed himself" and touched her hand "with the tip of his erect penis."
As she was crying, the woman claims 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 like I don't want anyone messing with mine."
In two of the suits, Buzbee wrote that "Watson's behavior is part of a disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable women."
Watson has not yet responded the latest civil suits filed against him.
Harris County Sheriff's deputies said Thursday that their department hasn't received any criminal sexual assault complaints against Watson.
However, Buzbee said Friday that he has now been contacted by the Houston Police Department, which is looking into the allegations.
The attorney said his "next step" will be to submit a "package" of information about the allegations to police, presumably to help launch a criminal probe.
In a statement issued the same day, the Houston Texans said they were aware of the matter and wanted to known more about the allegations.
"The NFL informed us [Thursday] that they will conduct an investigation into the allegations made in the civil lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson.
"We will stay in close contact with the league as they do. We continue to take this and all matters involving anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We do not anticipate making any additional statements until the NFL's investigation concludes."
Watson has hired Houston attorney Rusty Hardin for representation in the civil proceedings.
He has played four seasons for the Texans. In September last year he signed a four-year contract extension valued at $156,000,000, but has since requested to be traded.
During the 2020 season, he threw a for league-high of 4,823 yards.
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