CLEVELAND, Ohio — The attorney for the 24 plaintiffs with ongoing civil suits against Deshaun Watson for alleged sexual misconduct during massage appointments announced Wednesday he’s adding the Houston Texans and others as defendants.
“Based on what we have learned from the Houston Police Department, we will soon be joining the Houston Texans organization and others as defendants in the ongoing lawsuits against Deshaun Watson,” attorney Tony Buzbee said in a statement sent to cleveland.com. “Our team has thoroughly vetted each case. We are considering many others. These women are the true heroes in this sordid story. What has become clear is that the Houston Texans organization and their contracting “massage therapy company” facilitated Deshaun Watson’s conduct.
“In many of these cases, the Texans provided the opportunity for this conduct to occur. We believe the Texans organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act. They knew or certainly should have known. The Houston Texans organization provided rooms for Watson at the high-end Houstonian hotel for his “massages”; the Texans also provided massage tables and other support for Watson’s proclivities — ostensibly to protect their “asset.” We intend to make sure all involved in Watson’s conduct are held accountable, in addition to and including Watson himself.”
The NFL declined comment on the Texans being added.
Buzbee filed the 23rd and 24th suits against Watson in the past week, with the latter coming on Monday. Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, acknowledged that they hadn’t heard heard the 24th plaintiff’s name until the suit was filed that day.
“We are unable to respond to the new lawsuit at this time,’’ Hardin said in a brief statement Monday. “Deshaun continues to deny he did anything inappropriate with any of the plaintiffs.”
News that Buzbee is adding the Texans as a defendant comes after the New York Times’ Jenny Vrentas published an investigative piece detailing the club’s involvement in Watson’s massage appointments. According to the piece, Watson admitted in a deposition that the Texans set him up with ‘a place’ at The Houstonian, where he dined, used the fitness club and had massages in hotel rooms.
Vrentas reported that at least seven women met him there for massage appointments, including two who filed civil suits and two who filed police complaints.
Watson said in a deposition that the Texans didn’t know about his massage appointments at The Houstonian “that I know of.” He acknowledged that he wasn’t registered at the hotel under his own name.
Texans director of security Brent Naccara also supplied Watson with a non-disclosure agreement for the therapists to sign after one tried to expose his alleged misconduct on Instagram, Vrentas reported.
While awaiting a possible suspension by the NFL under its Personal Conduct Policy, Watson is participating in the Browns offseason program, which is in the midst of the third and final week of Organized Team Activities. The team will conduct it’s mandatory minicamp next week — for which Baker Mayfield has been excused — and then most of the veterans will disperse until training camp begins at the end of July.
Coach Kevin Stefanski, when asked Wednesday if the new suits and allegations have changed his view of Watson as a person, said, “we’re here making sure we’re getting good practice in. The guys did a nice job out there today. I’m not going to comment past that, but we’ll be respectful of the process, be respectful of the legal proceedings.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at a May 24 league meeting that NFL investigators were close to wrapping up the investigative period of the Watson case. When asked Tuesday if new suits and allegations have changed that, a league spokesman declined to comment, saying ‘the matter remains under review.’’
Hardin also told cleveland.com Monday that the NFL told him it was done interviewing Watson after four days of questioning, but it remains to be seen if they’ll want to talk to him again.
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