BEREA, Ohio — Another woman has filed a civil lawsuit against Deshaun Watson after the suspended Cleveland Browns quarterback pressured her into oral sex during a massage session in 2020.
It is the 26th known lawsuit filed against Watson, in which he is accused of inappropriate sexual misconduct or assault during massages.
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Harris County, Texas, Watson is accused of directing the plaintiff via Instagram to requesting a massage in a Houstonian hotel room in Texas in December 2020, while he was a member of the Texans. The lawsuit states that Watson “constantly pressured” during the session [the plaintiff] in massaging his private area” before “removing his towel” and “offering to make her come on top” oral sex” and “Pay Watson [the plaintiff] $300 for her services, although her normal fee was $115 for a one-hour massage.”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff has suffered “severe depression and anxiety” since the alleged incident.
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“My client’s experience with Deshaun Watson follows a series of disturbingly similar encounters reported by more than 20 women who have filed charges against the NFL superstar,” the woman’s attorney, Anissah Nguyen, told ESPN. “Like so many others, my client has struggled for nearly two years to cope with the shame and trauma of everything he stole from her and the daily pain that has become her reality.
“Knowing that her story will lead to harsh conversations, criticism, and even victim blaming, the strength and courage of these other women has given my client the courage to stand up and speak out. She seeks justice, not only for herself and her own healing, but for the more than twenty women who refused to remain silent, and the victims who have yet to come forward.”
Watson settled 23 of the lawsuits against him last summer, but one is still open, according to prosecutor’s attorney Tony Buzbee, who also represented the other women charged. One lawsuit was withdrawn after a judge ruled that the plaintiffs had to change their petitions to reveal their names. Two other women filed criminal charges against Watson, but did not charge him.
In July, the Texans reached settlements with 30 women who made or were willing to file claims against the NFL organization for what Buzbee called the alleged “allowance” of Watson’s behavior. The New York Times reported last summer that Texans arranged for Watson to see massage therapists in a Houston hotel room.
Watson is serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault against massage therapists, as defined by the NFL. On August 18, the NFL and NFL Players Association reached a settlement over Watson’s suspension. He was also fined $5 million and had to undergo a mandatory treatment program.
Two Texas grand juries declined to file criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. But Sue L. Robinson, an independent arbitrator appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, found that “the NFL bore its burden to prove, through a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson was involved in sexual assault.” Robinson also concluded in her report that Watson’s behavior was both “outrageous” and “predatory.”
Watson has repeatedly denied doing anything wrong, saying people weren’t interested in hearing his side of the story.
“I maintain my innocence just because, you know, settlements and stuff like that don’t mean anyone is guilty of anything,” he said on August 18 after the settlement agreement. “I feel like a person has a chance to insist on their innocence and prove that, and we’ve proved that from a legal side, and we’re just going to carry on as individuals and as individuals.”
Watson was allowed to re-enter the Browns training facility this week after being banned since August 30 as part of the settlement. He will not be able to train with the team until Nov. 14 and will not be eligible to play until Week 13, when the Browns travel to the Texans in Houston on Dec. 4.
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