NEWS & ANALYSIS

FUMBLES & FONDLES: Women Amend Sexual Assault Lawsuits vs. NFL Quarterback Deshaun Watson to Disclose Names


20 women who had previously filed sexual assault lawsuits against NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson have amended their petitions to include their names, while a new lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon. 

Tony Buzbee, the civil attorney for the women, refiled most of 21 lawsuits, initially made anonymously, to now include the names of the accusers. 

The latest lawsuit against the Houston Texans player was filed by a makeup artist who, like the rest of the accounts, says Watson reached out to her via Instagram in September, asking if she offered massages. 

The lawsuit detailed two separate incidents that occured during massage sessions in September and November, during which Watson allegedly assaulted and harassed the woman “by exposing himself, touching her with his penis and groping her.” 

The woman said that while she was massaging Watson the second time, she said no to his requests but eventually gave in because “the pressure from [his] relentless instruction coercing her against her will left her powerless.” 

Meanwhile, one of the original 22 lawsuits filed against Watson was dropped “for now.” 

“In light of privacy and security concerns, Plaintiff has decided not to pursue her case, for now,” court documents say. “Plaintiff reserves the right to refile this case once such concerns are addressed.” 

Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, acknowledged that the quarterback did, in fact, arrange massages over the last year via Instagram, but blamed it on the pandemic shutting down Houston’s spa industry, according to the Washington Post.

In a hearing last week, which covered 13 of the lawsuits, two judges ruled that the plaintiffs must reveal their identities. Before, only two women had been publicly identified. 

Buzbee said his law firm “previously attempted to make available to Defense Counsel the names of the plaintiffs suing Deshaun Watson, and intended to do so in due course.”

“We were concerned about the safety of these plaintiffs, and asked the Watson team to agree to a protective order where the identities could be used in litigation, but not broadcast to the world,” Buzbee continued. 

However, Hardin had a different story. 

Hardin said when his law firm asked Buzbee to “identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion.” 

“While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword,” Hardin said. “While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”