3rd civil suit is filed vs. Deshaun Watson and NFL is investigating allegations of sexual assault, harassment
HOUSTON — A third civil suit filed against Deshaun Watson alleges the Houston Texans quarterback forced a massage therapist to perform oral sex on him during a session with a woman in December of 2020.
This is now the third sexual assault and harassment civil suit filed against Watson since Tuesday, each involving a female massage therapist represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee.
A league source told Yahoo Sports on Thursday that the NFL’s investigative arm, led by senior vice president Lisa Friel, has begun its own probe into the allegations against Watson. The source said the league’s investigation would be conducted in a similar fashion to its steps following a sexual assault civil suit and other allegations brought against Antonio Brown in 2019.
According to an Instagram post from Buzbee on Wednesday, at least six separate suits alleging assault will be filed against Watson. Thus far, all three suits contain a similar pattern of allegations, claiming that Watson arranged massage sessions with the different women through Instagram, then made sexual advances during the course of his treatment that escalated to varying degrees of assault.
While the first two suits contained allegations of Watson pressing to sexualize his therapy and attempting to get the masseuses to touch his genitals, the third suit claims he forced a therapist to perform oral sex on him during a session at an office building. In what is the most graphic allegation of the three civil filings from Buzbee, the third suit claims the massage therapist, who now lives in Oregon, was coerced and intimidated by Watson to “move her mouth towards his penis, forcing Plaintiff to perform oral sex on him. Plaintiff did not consent to any of this conduct. Plaintiff blacked out for a few minutes from the fear.”
The suit goes on to allege that after Watson left, “Plaintiff was left shaking, violated and ashamed. Plaintiff was so shaken that she defecated on herself and ran to the bathroom to clean herself up.”
Like the first two filings against Watson, the third suit seeks a jury trial after a period of discovery, including a venue of Harris County for the proceedings. It also seeks a wide range of “exemplary” damages in relation to the alleged incident, including past and future for: pain and suffering, physical impairment, “enjoyment of life and peace of mind,” “medical, counseling, psychiatric, therapeutic and related expenses” and loss of earnings. It also asserts that the alleged victim “made a good faith effort to resolve this matter prior to the filing of this lawsuit.”
Watson refuted assault claims after the filing of the first of the three suits on Tuesday, posting a message on his social media accounts in which he said he intended to clear his name and that he has “never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect.”
In the NFL's investigation of Antonio Brown, Friel and the NFL sought interviews with at least two women who had made allegations against Brown. The league then moved to interview Brown in its probe, ultimately suspending him for half of the 2020 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Given that track, Friel is expected to seek interviews with each of the women who have filed (or plan to file) civil suits against Watson.
A source close to Watson has told Yahoo Sports that the quarterback has retained prominent Texas attorney Rusty Hardin to handle his defense. Hardin is considered one of the state’s elite trial lawyers and has made headlines in the past handling defense cases for several NFL players in Texas jurisdictions, including running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Michael Bennett. While the Houston Texans said after the filing of the first suit that the team was taking the allegations seriously, the franchise hasn’t commented since its initial statement on Tuesday night. The NFL has thus far declined to comment on the suits.
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