HOUSTON (AP) — Thirty women who had accused the Houston Texans of turning a blind eye to allegations that their former star quarterback, Deshaun Watson, sexually assaulted and harassed women during massage sessions have settled their lawsuits. against the team, his attorney said Friday.
The terms of the agreements between each of the women and the Texans are confidential, attorney Tony Buzbee said.
While only one of the women had filed a lawsuit against the team, the others intended to file lawsuits against the Texans before any settlements were reached, Buzbee said.
In separate lawsuits, 24 women accused Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments while playing for the Texans. A woman alleged that Watson forced her to perform oral sex. Last month, Buzbee announced that 20 of those 24 lawsuits had been settled.
In a statement, Texans owners Janice McNair and Hannah and Cal McNair said that while the team was unaware of Watson’s alleged misconduct, they were “shocked and deeply saddened” when they first learned of the allegations. accusations and chose to settle the claims against the player. team “friendly”.
“This is not an admission of any wrongdoing, but rather a clear position against any form of sexual assault and misconduct. We hope that today’s resolution provides some kind of closure for the parties involved, our fans, and the greater Houston community. As an organization, we will now focus on the future and do what we can to ensure respect for all,” the McNairs said in their statement.
In the lawsuit filed last month against the Texans, a woman accused the team and some of its employees of having been told or aware of Watson’s problematic behavior and his “known tendency to push boundaries during massage sessions.” . The lawsuit alleges that the Texans provided Watson with various resources, including rooms at a Houston hotel, massage tables and a confidentiality agreement the women were asked to sign, which allowed the quarterback to “advance his bad luck.” conduct with women.
Buzbee said that while he would not comment further on the allegations against the Texans, he added in a statement that “there is a stark contrast in how the Texans have addressed these allegations and how Watson’s team has.”
Watson, who agreed to be traded to the Cleveland Browns in March after four seasons with Houston, asserted his innocence and that any sexual relationships with therapists were consensual. The 26-year-old faces possible disciplinary action from the NFL over the allegations.
Watson, who signed a five-year, $230 million deal with the Browns, is waiting to see if he’ll be eligible to play this season. NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson will decide whether the three-time Pro Bowler violated the league’s personal conduct policy with his off-field behavior.
Robinson, a former federal judge in Delaware, held a hearing this month during which the league and the NFL Players Association presented arguments. The league has insisted on an indefinite suspension for Watson, while the union says there is no reason for a long suspension since he did not commit any crime.
Two separate grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on any criminal charges.
This is the first case for Robinson, who was appointed jointly by the league and union to handle the discipline. She has been reviewing post-hearing briefs from both sides.
The Browns, who traded three first-round picks to Houston and six overall to Watson, are anxious to see how long they could be without their starting quarterback. The team opens training camp on July 25.
Buzbee said he hopes to bring the four remaining lawsuits against Watson to trial sometime in the spring of next year.
AP sportswriter Kristie Rieken in Houston and AP sportswriter Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.