Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has been sued by four more women who accuse him of sexual assault and harassments.
The lawsuits were filed Thursday night, hours after the NFL said it was investigating earlier allegations by three massage therapists who said the quarterback sexually assaulted them during massages.
Watson, 25, has broadly denied that he acted inappropriately and said in a Tuesday statement that he looks forward to clearing his name. His attorney and agent have not responded to subsequent requests for comment.
The claims in the four new suits, which were filed in a Harris County court, mirror those in the three earlier cases. Each woman who sued Thursday worked in a spa or giving massages and claims that Watson exposed himself, touched them with his penis or kissed them against their will.
None of the seven women, who have sued separately but are all represented by Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee, are identified by name in the lawsuits. They are each seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as court costs. Houston police have declined to comment on whether any of the alleged sexual assaults were reported to the department, saying it does not identify people who have not been charged with a crime.
At a Friday news conference, Buzbee said he expects to file as many as 10 more lawsuits and his firm is vetting additional claims from women, including one involving an incident this month. None of his clients had filed police reports, he said, “but that is our next step.”
Buzbee said some of the massage therapists who came forward work at spas, some work from their homes, some work at deluxe hotels. All but one, who was flown in from Atlanta, were from the Houston area.
“These are, for the most part, licensed professionals. These are people that, many of them, are single mothers, either own their own shop or work in a spa,” while three clients are married and one is engaged to be married, he said.
The women are suing for $500 in damages, the least that can be sought in a Texas civil district court, “and they bring these cases for one reason only stopping further misconduct from this defendant or any others like him,” he said.
Hardin, an attorney for Watson, released a statement that said he is “extremely proud to represent Deshaun Watson and wholly stand behind him.”
“However, we will wait to comment in detail until we’ve completed our review of the numerous, evolving allegations from Mr Buzbee,” the statement said. “We will respond next week and ask you to keep an open mind until we do so.”
Buzbee is believed to be a neighbor of Texans owner Cal McNair. Watson and the Texans are in the middle of an acrimonious offseason with the quarterback wanting to leave a team he believes has been mismanaged for a number of years.
On Wednesday, the Texans said they are aware of the allegations against Watson.
“We became aware of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post last night,” the team said in a statement. “This is the first time we heard of the matter, and we hope to learn more soon. We take accusations of this nature that involve anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We will await further information before making any additional statements on this incident.”
Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, signed a four-year, $156m deal with the Texans last year. Following the trade of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last spring and changes to the coaching staff and front office, Watson raised concerns about his lack of a voice in the franchise and is reportedly frustrated by the general direction of the team.