Embattled QB Settles 20 of 24 Misconduct Lawsuits

Cleveland Browns' Deshaun Watson still faces four trials and possible NFL suspension
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 21, 2022 1:48 PM CDT
Embattled QB Settles 20 of 24 Misconduct Lawsuits
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson takes part in drills Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached an agreement to settle 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits that had been filed by women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment, an attorney for the women said Tuesday, per the AP. Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee, who represents all 24 women, said the details would remain confidential. Watson has been accused by massage therapists of harassing, assaulting, or touching them during appointments when he was playing for the Houston Texans. The first 22 lawsuits were filed in March and April 2021, and the last two were filed after HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel aired an interview last month with two of the women.

Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lead attorney, did not immediately return an email seeking comment. Last week, Watson said he intended to clear his name and sidestepped questions about whether he would settle with any of the women. “I never assaulted anyone,” Watson said. “I never harassed anyone. … I never forced anyone to do anything.” In March, two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.

Watson could still be suspended if the NFL determines he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the settlements have "no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.” Cleveland signed Watson to a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract in March. Buzbee said he plans on taking the four lawsuits that weren’t settled to trial. (More Deshaun Watson stories.)

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