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Sixteen women have filed civil lawsuits accusing Deshaun Watson of varying degrees of sexual assault, putting the Houston Texans quarterback’s future in doubt. Watson denied any wrongdoing in a general statement last week.
Amid the pile of lawsuits though, one that was filed late Tuesday afternoon in Harris County, Texas, could prove to be the most problematic for Watson.
It includes a potential criminal act, possible physical evidence and multiple counts of contemporaneous reporting that experts say is critical in these kinds of situations. It also mirrors many of the other allegations and potentially bolsters them due to the date of the act and the woman's real-time reporting.
“This is clearly the one with the most credibility to it and clearly the one that could present criminal problems for Watson,” said Craig Mordock, a New Orleans-based attorney who frequently handles sexual assault defense and has also represented victims of sexual assault in civil and criminal matters.
Much of Jane Doe 15’s allegations are similar to those by other women, each of whom Watson hired to provide massages. In May of 2020, she said Watson contacted her via Instagram seeking a massage that would focus on his “‘groin area’, his ‘glutes’ and his ‘lower abdominals.’ ”
Doe 15 was surprised that a famous NFL quarterback sought her out. She alleged that she informed him that she was a licensed personal trainer, not a massage therapist. She could help with post-workout muscle therapy, but “massages were not her specialty.”
Watson was undeterred and scheduled her to come to his house on May 28, according to the lawsuit. She arrived and Watson led her to the theater room, where she set up before Watson returned wearing just a towel.
Doe 15 alleged in her lawsuit that when Watson “eventually flipped over onto his back, the towel fell off [and] … Watson was completely naked and exposed his penis to the Plaintiff. Watson also moved his penis onto Plaintiff’s hand. Watson had pre-ejaculate leaking out of his penis, which got onto Plaintiff’s hand. Plaintiff felt like she wanted to vomit.”
Doe 15 said she was confused and upset and chose to end the massage session. She stated she left soon after.
Watson’s actions are a potential violation of 22.012 of the Texas penal code — indecent assault — which is punishable for up to one year in prison or a fine of $4,000.
“If what happened is as it’s described in the lawsuit, then it is absolutely indecent assault,” Mordock said.
Watson could face more serious felony sexual assault charges based on the allegations by Jane Doe No. 3 and No. 9 concerning forced oral sex, however those civil lawsuits do not indicate a level of contemporaneous reporting that Jane Doe 15 does.
“When Plaintiff got home that day,” the lawsuit reads, “Plaintiff immediately called her mom and her best friend to tell them what happened and said she was traumatized … Plaintiff also received a text message from Watson that same day asking her if she was OK. Plaintiff did not respond. For weeks afterwards, Watson repeatedly contacted Plaintiff asking if he could book her again. Plaintiff either ignored the requests or said she was too busy.”
The fact that Doe 15 alleges to have told two people — her mother and her best friend — that very day about what allegedly happened could provide significant credibility to her claim. Her story is on the record. Both individuals could be called to testify in either a criminal or civil claim.
“That is a contemporaneous report,” Mordock said. “It is the key to these cases. It signals that the alleged victim in the matter knew that it was severe enough that she had to tell someone right away. They knew something was wrong right away.
“Then you have him following up asking if she is OK?” Mordock continued. “That is not a particularly good fact for Watson. And then she refuses to engage with him.”
The lawsuit did not include any of the alleged direct messages or text threads between the two. There would, however, be records of any communication between them if they did in fact take place, as Jane Doe 15 alleges.
Jane Doe 15 is, as the moniker suggests, the 15th woman to file a lawsuit against Watson. All of the plaintiffs have the same attorney, Tony Buzbee, which Watson’s team has suggested undermines their credibility.
While it is not known when Doe 15 contacted Buzbee, the timing of her lawsuit, a full week after Jane Doe 1 first made her allegations public, suggests she joined up after the news broke.
If that is the case, then her contemporaneous report on May 28 would potentially offer proof that she isn’t just mimicking the stories of the other massage therapists. In fact, she established the story before any of them began telling very similar ones. Hers would be the first known report, and since what she told her mother and friend would be unknown to the others, it in turn makes their ensuing stories more believable.
“It matches up with pretty much every other description, but she reported it in May, when she knew nothing about any other women or any other complaints and no other women knew about her,” Mordock said.
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